MOUNT AIRY, Md (WDVM) — A Mount Airy equestrian center is now one of about 60 horse training facilities across the country chosen to pilot a new program.

At the Talbot Run Equestrian Center, it’s the students who help bandage and care for the dozens of horses that fill the stalls.

“I think its fun, but that’s just me. It’s really different,” said 11-year-old horse ride, Reagan Gallagher.

In 2004, Ann Petrasek and her husband, Bob, started the 147-acre horse center after retiring as teachers in Montgomery County.

Here, their daughter, Robin, and fellow instructors teach riding lessons and host camps.

“We’ve seen it more and more those first-time eyes when they come in that they’ve never seen anything like this before,” said owner of the Talbot Run Equestrian Center, Ann Petrasek.  

And that’s why Ann applied to host the Time to Ride pilot program created by the American Horse Council.

The Mount Airy Center is one of only three horse barns and organizations in the state chosen to host Time to Ride.

Lessons will be held once a week for eight weeks and cover basic horse care and riding.

“We want to open our doors to people who have no idea. We’re going to get them all in deep, hands-on with the horses- grooming them, tacking them, understanding the health needs that they have,” said Ann’s daughter and instructor for the Time to Ride course, Robin Petrasek.  

The group of about 10 students will help guide the horse out off the stalls, groom their hair and even pick out rocks from their feet.

Ann says this is all an effort teach kids responsibility and compassion. 

“We want them to know how to take care of them, we want them to be compassionate for the horses and understand that horses have good days and bad days just like we do,” said Ann.

The pilot program will begin in September and afterward, the center will evaluate, alongside discussions with the two other Maryland-based programs, on whether to move forward with more lessons.