Raise Your Dreams Farm Helps Crash Victim Reclaim His Life

3 Nov
Tom turned to equine therapy to help him reclaim his life.

Tom turned to equine therapy to help him reclaim his life.

Motorcycle-crash victim rebuilds life with help from a horse named Pumpkin

Raise Your Dreams Farm helps motorcycle-crash victim with equine therapy, Oct. 25, 2013
PILESGROVE TWP. — Tom Worl has never quite recovered from the accident in 1995 when a drunk driver hit his motorcycle.
Now, thanks to help from a horse named Pumpkin at Raise Your Dreams Farm, he’s starting to get his life back.
It was Labor Day in Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Worl was riding his souped-up cafe racer. He had only been on the West Coast for three months, having moved there from South Jersey for a computer technician’s job.
After the accident, he was laid up in a hospital for a year with a shattered hip, broken back and broken neck.
Worl came back to New Jersey and was eventually able to get around again with assistance from a walker.
“They thought I would have to use a walker my whole life,” said Worl, 43, of Swedesboro. “Now, I don’t use a walker.”
He wasn’t truly able to heal until he started equine therapy at Raise Your Dreams Farm in Pilesgrove.
Worl speaks each word deliberately and fumbles on some of the more complicated syllables but, when he talks about his therapy horse Pumpkin, you can hear the excitement in his voice.
“I take good care of him and he takes good care of me,” Worl said.
Pumpkin is a 15-year-old American Quarter Horse with soft, brown fur and a slow gait.
Worl was frustrated with Pumpkin when they first met a year ago because Pumpkin would not budge whenever he tried to go for a ride.
“When this horse starts to trust you and you get to be in better balance, this horse is going to move,” said Jill Mansor, owner and operator of Raise Your Dreams Farm, which practices equine therapy.
Worl’s balance was so bad that he had trouble on any uneven surface — with even grass giving him a hard time.
Eventually, though, he and Pumpkin began to get familiar with each other and the trotting began.
Pumpkin has helped me in so many aspects of my life
“Now, it’s like riding a different horse,” Worl said.
“Because you’re a different rider,” Mansor retorted.
Mansor, a special education teacher in West Deptford, has operated Raise Your Dreams Farm for almost 12 years, mostly using equine therapy to help special-needs children.
“It encompasses everything,” Mansor said, who became certified in equine therapy in the 1980s.
She was a volunteer at first but eventually opened up her own farm, where she helps more than a dozen children and a handful of adults a week.
By riding the horse, according to Mansor, the person builds physical strength in their hips, their core and legs. It also helps with balance and the ability of the rider to focus.
“Equine therapy is like a miracle worker,” she said.
Mansor first heard about Worl in the summer of 2012, when his aunt contacted her about horse therapy.
“He shared his story with me and I was blown away,” she said. “Of course, I’ll work with you.”
They’ve been riding ever since — taking time off during the winter — and building up Worl’s strength to allow him to walk uninhibited.
When they first started, Worl was surrounded by handlers in case he fell. He was only able to start riding by himself a few months ago.
“Pumpkin is not going to let anything bad happen to him,” Mansor said. “I know that sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Worl follows the same routine at the farm. He pulls up in his truck, greeted by Mansor’s two Great Pyrenees — named Snowball and Frosty. They are very large dogs with white fur who seem to have more in common with polar bears than sheepdogs.
He then goes over to greet Pumpkin, their relationship a far cry compared to when they first met.
“Pumpkin comes over all the time and says hello,” Worl said.
The horse, of course, doesn’t really say hello, Worl clarifies, but simply picks his head up and trots happily to him.
Before any riding occurs, Mansor leads a small prayer.
“We always pray for protection,” Mansor said. “I just ask God to take control of it, protect every rider who’s here, keep each one safe. And every rider — no matter who they are — we start with prayer.”
Ever since his accident, Worl admitted to blaming God for a lot of things. Going to Raise Your Dreams, though, healed his spirituality along with his body.
“He’s now a big part of my life so it’s good that I came here because He’s a big part of this farm’s life,” Worl said.
Worl’s life has vastly improved since he started his equine therapy.
His balance has improved to such a degree that he regularly goes on bicycle rides — up to 90 miles a week, he estimates.
And all of it was thanks to Mansor and a horse named Pumpkin.
“Pumpkin has helped me in so many aspects of my life,” Worl said. “He makes me do everything just a little bit better.”

Contact staff writer Don E. Woods at 856-451-1000, ext. 518 or dwoods@southjerseymedia.com

One Response to “Raise Your Dreams Farm Helps Crash Victim Reclaim His Life”

  1. billgncs November 3, 2013 at 6:57 PM #

    I would call that hello 🙂

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