This new state-of-the-art facility has been a long time coming. I remember when Brennen first got involved with Rainbow Riders, when he was just three years old. The barn was rundown even then. The washroom was not accessible, the building was cold, and just really needed some structural upgrades.
The original barn, inherited by Rainbow Riders decades ago, was well past its useful life. They offered a wonderful program, but its demand had grown well beyond its capacity, and so, recognizing that it was not able to adequately meet the needs of its users, Rainbow Riders launched the Raise It Up campaign to raise funds to help improve its facilities.
The campaign raised 6.5 million dollars, and was successful in creating the incredible facility that now exists on Mt. Scio Road in Pippy Park. The 14 acre site houses a 16-stall barn, a large indoor arena, an Olympic-sized outdoor riding ring, riding trails, accessible washrooms, as well as an enclosed observation room and a multipurpose room.
The new facility will offer customized therapeutic horseback riding programs to children and youth with cognitive and physical disabilities. The entire barn is accessible to all, and will provide an incredible opportunity to young riders with special needs!
Julia Crocker, a participant and dear friend of ours, spoke so eloquently at the reception. She said, "I am proud to be a member of the Rainbow Riders community, and to speak to you today on behalf of all riders. For me, therapeutic riding gives me the freedom to soar through the air and leave my worries behind. I have been riding for more than seven years and I love spending time with the horses. Because of my balance, I am not able to participate in some sports, but my horse, Pearl helps me with my balance and core strength and keeps me active. I love riding! Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. This facility means greater accessibility, more opportunities, and inclusion for all. We are very proud of our new rainbow riders facility and I know I can speak for everyone when I say we can't wait to see what we can achieve! For children with disabilities, Rainbow Riders is a place to call our very own - a place where limitations are put aside and new possibilities begin. Thank you for believing in the power of therapeutic riding and for building this magical place. I can't wait to see where we can go. The possibilities are endless!"
Here is Julia cutting the ribbon, and then taking a selfie with Campaign Chair, Paul Antle!
Watch this beautiful video to get a closer look at the magic that happens at Rainbow Riders!
We also attended the 'Holiday Traditions Celebration' at the barn on Sunday. Rainbow Riders was excited to host their first Christmas event in the new facility, and it was absolutely spectacular. We are not religious at all, but the Christmas story gets me every time. The birth of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament was represented by young riders and children from the community. Brennen has played a Shepherd in the live nativity for several years now, but this year he was a Wise Man! As they all took their places, a band softly played a beautiful rendition of "Away in a Manger". It was quite moving, and really made you feel the true spirit of the holidays, and what Christmas should be about. It's the very essence of childhood - the sense of wonder and the innocent belief in possibility that is so strong this time of year. This event was a special one for us, and we were happy to share it together as a family.
Congratulations to Rainbow Riders on the completion of their incredible new facility!
We are excited for the future of the organization, and for all of the potential that it holds!