Alisa Hart

Alisa Hart

When you hear the term “Horse Whisperer,” it is easy to conjure up an image of a man in his middle years, wearing his Stetson, his boots, and a few weeks’ worth of facial hair. You do not picture the fresh young face of Alisa Hart, accomplished keeper of animals large and small and 2023 Lucketts Ruritan Club Scholarship winner.  But Horse Whisperer she is!  How did this all come about?

Alisa started homeschooling in  second grade, when a broken back made it impossible for her to continue traditional schooling.  Her mother, Vanessa, soon decided to include all her children in the process.  “Learning in the outdoors was a part of every day.  We had nature hikes four seasons of the year and were able to explore places like local museums and parks when no one else was there!”  Alisa and her sisters could combine book learning with hands on projects at home that made subjects come alive.  “We hosted a ‘Greek Banquet’ complete with togas when studying World History.”  And it goes without saying that taking on and caring for animals of all shapes and sizes was much easier to do when learning from home.

The Hart family lived in Sterling when Alisa was in elementary school. Her love of animals started small with rabbits and involvement in a local Rabbit Club. She joined 4-H and was able to expand into raising traditional farm animals in 2015 when the family moved to Taylorstown. “4-H has become my family.  Every year is a long process of getting ready to participate in the Loudoun County Fair in July.”  For Alisa, breeding animals and raising crops has also fueled a deep interest in the natural sciences.  “Learning more and at deeper levels just made the work of farming so much more rewarding.  We exhausted the science classes in most homeschool programs and have been taking higher level classes on-line through Northern Virginia Community College.”  Inevitably, this love of farming and animals led Alisa to caring for and riding horses.

“I have a large passion for horses and for helping owners find a healthy connection with their own horse, helping the pair work through their issues so they can have a softer and safer connection.”  Alisa spent the past eight years in dressage training with Tina Legno at Alivio Farm in Lovettsville, and then with Jacqui Ross at Chapel View Farm in Lucketts.  Watching, listening, and practicing the subtle forms of communication between a horse and a rider in dressage sharpened Alisa’s skills in seeing the disconnect between a rider/owner’s approach and a horse’s temperament.   Alisa works at Chapel View Farm where she can practice this skill.  In 2020, Alisa got her own horse, Aya, a yearling wild Mustang.  She has since gentled, trained, and competed with Aya.  Her work has provided experience in equine farming and behavior management and in sustainable farming and community outreach, which have fueled her interest in sustainable agriculture. After completing her Associate Degree in General Science, she plans to go on for a Bachelors in Environmental Science and then a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture.

4-H gave Alisa the dual experience of being mentored and of mentoring younger members of her Club. She served as an Ambassador for the 4-H Virginia Horse Program which gave her the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outreach and leadership opportunities. This experience, combined with the discipline of homeschooling, has given her a model of “sustainable learning.”  “I’ve learned that my curiosity does not need to follow a set path to be satisfied.” It is no surprise that Alisa wants to use her education to “teach anyone who wants to listen” about the ways to make agriculture more sustainable.  “Sustainable agriculture connects the local community with its land and brings harmony between the two instead of conflict.” Lucketts is a great place to follow these goals now and into the future!  Congratulations Alisa, we are so proud of your accomplishments and look forward to your future!