By Carol Mowdy Bond
Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., a program for children with disabilities, is moving to Yukon during the second week of May.
Currently located at 9304 U.S. Hwy 81 in El Reno, the program’s current venue is the Redlands Community College Royse Ranch north of El Reno. The riding program rents the land and facilities there.
But just recently Savannah Station became the proud owner of a 20-acre, north Yukon property with office and classroom spaces, and the barn, buildings, and pastures the program needs. Executive director Andi Holland said she cannot yet reveal the address or exact location. But she said, “We are extremely excited. This is totally a God thing. In our wildest dreams, we never imagined we would be moving into a property like this. This sets us up for life, and we’ll be able to expand in ways we never thought possible.”
Holland said the program will continue at its current El Reno location for the duration of this semester. But the program will take possession of the new property on February 1. And on February 15, the program will take possession of the barn area. “This is coming in stages,” Holland said. “We are staying at Redlands for this semester. We’ll be here until the first part of May. During the second week of May, we’ll move and get settled in. And then we’ll start the summer session during the second week of June at the new location.”
Holland said the entire operation will move including the nine horses, along with all tack and gear, and all the offices. Of the move, Holland said, “We’ve got amazing support and volunteers. I know 2020 has been a hard year for everyone. But overall, it has been a really good year for us.”
Since 2016, Savannah Station has rented an outstanding horse facility with barns and riding areas, surrounded by prairie pasture lands in El Reno. The program provides hope and healing with horses, enabling riders with special needs to overcome physical and mental limitations.
Holland said the number of students is “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 focus 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 lessons 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.
Founded in 2013, Savannah Station has a nine-member board, an executive director and barn manager, and PATH certified instructors. The program is a member center of PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, which is the primary governing association for equine assisted therapy programs. The program is a nonprofit corporation that relies on donations, fundraising, and grants to keep the program properly funded and operational. Donations are tax deductible.
Savannah Station, a therapeutic riding program for children with disabilities that has focused on speech and coordination for riders that was established in 2013 at stables on N. Council Road and W. Wilshire Boulevard in far west Oklahoma City before moving to Canadian County and operating in stables off U.S. 81 on the north side of El Reno.
Savannah Station have thanked Jerry and Athena Captain, the Savannah Station Board, Tomas Manske, Ken Carpenter Auction and Realty, Jay Emory, President BancFirst Yukon/Mustang for their support.