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  Welcome to Willowbend Farm, Inc.

About Willowbend Farm

Willowbend Farm began as a training and boarding facility owned and operated by Jeff & Darlene Patterson.  The riding arena is 80 X 175 -- 8 indoor stalls with attached outdoor paddocks and large heated observation area.

Our Focus

Our focus is Herd 2 Human, aiding in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).  Sharing methods and philosophies of interspecies communication with horses assists humans develop more, purpose, personal value and healthy human relationships.

It is our goal to provide a safe, comfortable and educational environment for both horse and human --- continue to learn and teach good communication skills between horse and human --- help our students feel better about themselves by learning how to build relationships with a horse.   


Some of the fun stuff Jeff has been involved in with horses: 

  • Founder and clinician of Herd 2 Human
  • Equine assisted trauma therapy Horse Specialist 
  • President of the Missoula Horsmen's Council
  • Lifetime member of the Missoula County Sheriff's Posse & Cowboy       Polo Club
  • Endurance Ride Manager - AERC (American Endurance Riders             Conference) 
  • Missoula County 4-H Horse Committee
  • 4-H Horse Project Leader
  • 4-H Horse Superintendent
  • Missoula County Fair Horse Park Superintendent
  • CDC Therapeutic Riding Volunteer

Jeff has been a horseman his entire life.  Like many horseman, Jeff learned early in life, some of the wrong ways to train and handle horses.  However, in the past several years he has discovered a method of communicating and working with the horse that has changed his world with horses. 

Jeff's background with horses includes:  Rodeo, O-Mok-See, packing, trail riding, ranch work, training, therapeutic riding volunteer, shoeing, and supporting his lovely wife, Darlene, in the sport of endurance.  As a member of AERC, Jeff has co-managed three endurance competitions.  For 25 years Jeff played cowboy polo with the Missoula County Sheriff's Posse.  In 1995, Jeff was on the Montana team that won third place in the National Finals Cowboy Polo Competition in Greely, Colorado. 

Jeff has been qualified in Federal Court as an expert in horse related matters including, but not limited to; behavior, husbandry, training, tack and equipment, misrepresentations and non-disclosures, recovery of lost or stolen horses, liabilities associated with accidents or facility design, risk management, etc.  Jeff has been a private investigator and fraud examiner since 1981.  In addition to a wide scope of expertise in the investigative field, Jeff provides investigative services, consultation and litigation support in a variety of equine related cases.


  • Co-founder of Herd 2 Human
  • Reiki Master
  • AERC (American Endurance Riders Conference) -- Competitor,              past ride manager
  • Missoula County 4-H Horse Committee
  • 4-H Horse Project Leader
  • Volunteer Coordinator for CDC Horse Therapeutic Riding Program

Darlene also has a long history with horses.  As a young girl she showed Hackney and Shetland ponies.  Since 1984, Darlene has been competing in the sport of endurance and is recognized in the sport nationwide.  Darlene has completed 50, 75 and 100 mile races, as well as multi-day, limited distance and competitive trail rides.  In 1997, out of a field of 226 horses, Darlene finished 34th at the infamous Tevis Cup 100 Miles One Day Ride.  In 2000, Darlene was long listed for the Pan American Championship Endurance Ride but pulled her horse from the list due to an adverse reaction to an equine vaccination.  More recently in 2015, Yahtzi and Darlene were awarded Reserve Grand Champion at the Region Six 50 Mile Endurance Ride.

Darlene has ridden over 20,000 conditioning miles and over 4,000 miles in competition.   Her  experiences in the sport of endurance riding afford her a unique ability to help others with balanced, efficient riding techniques, athletic conditioning of the horse and meaningful relationships.  AERC.

For a short time, Darlene was the volunteer coordinator for a local CDC therapeutic riding program.  At the conclusion of the CDC program, Darlene assisted the Missoula County Sheriff's Posse with WINAH (Why I Need a Horse).  WINAH afforded families with special needs children the opportunity to own a horse by providing a free horse and support for one year.

Presently Darlene is attuned to Reiki III and enjoys helping others attain a few minutes of peace in our busy world.


  • 4-H - Western, English, Showmanship, Ranch Horse, Colt to Maturity,       Trail
  • AERC - (American Endurance Riders Conference) Limited Distance           competitor
  • FFA
  • High School and College Rodeo
  • Frank Bell Accredited Instructor Candidate 

Austin is the grandson of Jeff & Darlene.  He has been riding since he was 18 months old and has accomplished outstanding skills as a young rider, handler and junior trainer.  He has walls of ribbons and awards from a variety of competitions that demonstrate his dedication and skill.  Austin competed in 4-H, local shows, extreme cowboy challenges, reining and as many other equine challenges.  At age 6, Austin completed his first 25 mile limited distance ride.  In 2002, he won the 1st Junior Montana Rider trophy, a regional limited distance rider award.   High School and College Rodeo are also a part of Austin's experiences, in addition to being  an accredited  candidate under world renowned trainer and clinician, Frank Bell. Austin is an great asset to the Herd 2 Human program. 

Austin is now 24 years old and lives just across the pasture from the barn with his fiance', twin boys, a daughter and new baby boy as of March 2020.  The generations continue here at Willowbend Farm.


We were a 4-H/FFA family for many years.  4-H has provided our grandson (Austin) many opportunities.  As a courtesy, and in support of our local 4-H/FFA kids, we keep our arena open to 4-H/FFA members at no charge.