By Carol Mowdy Bond
This year’s fundraising event for Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program, 9304 N. Highway 81 in El Reno, was a success.
The program’s annual, live Galloping for Hope Barn Party fundraising event, originally scheduled for July 24, was changed due to COVID-19. This year’s event became an online auction that began July 24 and ended August 7.
Executive director Andi Holland said, “It turned out really well. For us to be able to do anything this year is a success. Before we cancelled the live event, we already had $10,000 in sponsorships. None of them wanted their money back. This is God’s program. It always has been and always will be.”
The auction proceeds were a little over $10,000. Holland said, “People came forward after all that had happened. We had wonderful things on the auction site, and some of the things never even made it to auction. People bought them before the auction began. We had cool things happen. On top of all that, a family gave a $25,000 donation.”
Held only once annually, the fundraiser is critical to the Savannah Station’s annual $85,000 annual budget. The program relies on the community, sponsorships, grants, and fundraising events to support the program.
Ken Carpenter, auction broker and owner of Ken Carpenter Auction & Realty LLC, 136 W. Highway 152 in Mustang, set up the auction so that it was fully an online event.
Holland said, “Approximately 90% of all money we get goes into the program for horse care, and provides the resources to teach the lessons, and provides for our three instructors who teach. The rest takes care of administration, and just things you have to have like insurance and things like that.”
“We run a really tight ship,” Holland said. “Our board keeps track of all our funds. We don’t charge our riders. It’s important that we be good stewards of all funds. We only have one major fundraiser each year, and a few grants and a few donations come during the year. God just takes care of us. It is totally amazing. We are very, very thankful.”
If anyone still wants to donate to the program, they may go to the web site savannahstation.org. Or the program accepts checks made out to Savannah Station, and mailed to Savannah Station, P.O. Box 852084 Yukon, OK 73085.
Since 2013, Savannah Station has rented an outstanding horse facility with barns and riding areas, surrounded by prairie pasture lands, owned by Redlands Community College. The program provides hope and healing with horses, enabling riders with special needs to overcome physical and mental limitations.
Holland said, “We have the highest number of students we’ve ever had. The numbers are growing every year. The minimum age for our riders is age 4. At this time, we have riders ages 4 to 30. Our riders have 45 minute sessions, and we have three riders in each class. Our programs focuses on cognitive, social, and emotional confidence. We are the only therapeutic riding program that serves special abilities youth and adults and their families west of Oklahoma City all the way to the state border. We are a nonprofit group, so all our services are free of charge for our clients.”
Equine-assisted therapy uses the movement of the horse to create muscle and sensory stimulation that brings about physical, emotional, and cognitive rehabilitation.
It has to do with the rhythmic, repetitive gait of the horse. The movement of the horse gives the experience of normal pelvic movement in the rider. Riding the horse brings a sense of freedom that many riders are not able to experience any other way.
The program’s lesson are weekly and address a number of special challenges including Autism, brain injuries, cardiovascular disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, deafness, Down Syndrome, emotional and learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida and spinal cord injuries, visual impairment and other highly involved disabilities. Therapeutic riding is a proven form of valuable therapy.
“The healing relationship between the horse and the rider is undeniable,” Holland said.