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Our Story

Susanna Farms began in the 1930s when Steven Jennings (SJ) and Mae O'Bryan purchased several parcels of property in Lake Villa. They named their land Susanna Farms after each of their mother's Susan and Anna.  Fast forward to the early 2000s when a few of their grandchildren reimagined Susanna Farms on part of the original land as a Fall Festival for families to come and enjoy this land.  The farm closed in 2014 and was reopened in 2019. Today, the farm is owned and operated by Laura and Elizabeth Heffernan, granddaughters of SJ and May O'Bryan.


Susanna Farms current programming is focused on equine-assisted activities, small events, and camps for year-round fun. This includes beginner and intermediate riding lessons, therapeutic riding lessons and partner programming focused on improving the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of our clients. We create public and private events for holiday celebrations, birthdays and corporate team building and team bonding events. 

Future plans include expanding our mental health programing and partnerships, creating additional meditation areas, walking paths and the long-term expansion of our facilities to include a new barn and event center for onsite retreats and community events for small to medium-sized groups that help build on our mission to improve our clients physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Our Animals


Quarter Horse (25-30 years old) Rocky came to the farm around 2009 after having a successful
career as a barrel racing horse. He is a true rockstar of a horse. Gentle, patient, and confident he rules
the horses as the leader of this herd. Rocky never lost a race with his rider, a high-school rodeo champ
until he had a career ending injury. He was donated to Susanna Farms so he could live out his life still
running in the fields and teaching children confidence and patience. He is still able to walk, trot and
canter and has been an amazing lesson horse but he can’t do fast turns and has issues with his vision, so
we use him for some lesson riders who are more experienced and confident as well as for some fan
favorite pony ride events. We will be reducing the amount of his work over the next year or so as we
get other horse into the mix. He remains a great horse for groundwork and non-mounted exercises.


Halflinsger pony (age 25-30) Peanut came to us after a life as a trail horse and had some medical issues which took awhile to figure out.  With the help of our dedicated veterinarian, we finally learned that she has cushings disease and now that she is on medication and getting an antihistamine for some allergies, she is back to being able to do some light lesson work and birthday party rides. Due to the cushings she has some hoof issues which require her to wear special boots at night and when she is in her stall.  We monitor how much she is used so as not to aggravate her health issues and she has several days off a week to ensure she has lots of rest.

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Quarter Horse (b. 1999) – Lady came to the farm as a companion for our mother’s horse in 2006.
She had been a dressage and jumping horse whose owner had shown her some but was moving and
needed to sell her. Due to some arthritis and tummy issues, she is not a jumping horse anymore, but
she is a great lesson horse who has a smooth gait and a willing disposition so great for riders of all levels.
While she is the lead mare, she is kind and patient with our mini donkey and all children. She will
eventually retire with Rocky and any other herd members who are not able to partner with us for riding
but she will always stay on the farm as a fan favorite and a beauty even if she does love to get dirty!


Quarter Pony (age 20-25) Maggie came to us after being used as a summer camp horse and we were told she needed a restart, but we soon found out she had some trauma issues and in the end she also has cushings disease.  We use Maggie for camp and pony rides for beginner riders or more advanced independent riders.  We continue to work on her trauma issues and she has made great progress.  She also wears special boots at night due to the cushings disease affects on her hooves.  She is our meditation specialist and will lick and stand next to humans who have experienced trauma. Maggie also has several days off a week and loves attention. 


Shetland Pony (age 10-12) Jerry came to the farm from Patch 22 where he was a pony ride specialist, and we are told he used to be part of a driving team called Tom and Jerry 😊 He is an all around great pony with young lesson riders and therapeutic riders as well as lots of pony rides.  He is sassy and loves to run and chase the bigger horses.  Who knows, maybe in the next few years we will have him driving a cart again. 


Quarter Horse (B 2010) Teddy came to us as a young horse and has lived on the farm since he was under 2 years old and is for advanced riders or as a leased horse for advanced riders.  He is super pretty and has a lot of energy so he is not a good horse for beginners.  He is the personal horse for Laura, our founder and several staff who are more advanced riders keep him in great shape.  As he works more on his focus and energy, he has begun to be used for some other activities on the farm.  He does love to have his picture taken and is very friendly for all our non-mounted activities.

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Nurse mare foal rescue breeding unknown (b. April 4, 2022) Honeydew and her
pasture partner Betty Boop came from the Last Chance Corral in OH. They are in training to
become lesson and therapeutic riding horses for our program. Currently they are able to be

lead, brushed and are comfortable with all sorts of handling blanketing and overall sweet little
mares. We will wait until they are three to get them under saddle and are dedicated to keeping
them living a good life here on the farm as their forever home. They are so cute and getting
better with adults and children handling them. We look forward to seeing how big they get and
what their riding specialty might be.

Betty Boop

Nurse mare foal rescue thoroughbred/pony cross (B April 14 2022) Betty Boop
came with Honeydew from the Last Chance Corral. She is just as cute and friendly as her
pasture pal and loves to run and jump. Currently being trained in general leading, grooming and
handling. She and Honeydew have been trailered to local shows and are good being tied,
trimmed and for the vet. We are excited to see how she works under saddle.

Betty Boop
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Danny the Donkey

Nurse mare foal rescue thoroughbred/pony cross (B April 14 2022) Betty Boop
came with Honeydew from the Last Chance Corral. She is just as cute and friendly as her
pasture pal and loves to run and jump. Currently being trained in general leading, grooming and
handling. She and Honeydew have been trailered to local shows and are good being tied,
trimmed and for the vet. We are excited to see how she works under saddle.

Barn Cats

Of course, what farm would be complete without a few barn cats. We have 4 on
the farm. Our two older cats Frankie and Joey are brothers rescued from Fat Cat Rescue and
while they are friendly feral cats, they don’t like to be held or petted. They came to the farm in
2014 and are still going strong. In late 2023 we got two new feral kittens from a farm in WI –
Figaro and Ginger are much friendlier and let camp kids, riders and adults get a little kitten and
eventually cat cuddle in on the farm.

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Chickens all around

We have a mix of chickens of different breeds to raise eggs and meat for
the farm and for our community. There are a few who live in the barn with the horses the
offspring of the first Rogue hen who abandoned the coop in the summer of the seven roosters
(more on that to come soon) and then a lager group of mostly hens who live in the coop area
and free range on days when it’s safe for them to be out and about.


In 2020 when the rest of the world was getting back up toilet paper, we got goats and
more chickens galore. The goats were from a neighbor who had gotten them and they were
overwhelmed by the process and several goats had gotten sick. We have two great goats from
that rescue Bullet and Tito. They are super friendly and love being fed and brushed.

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