By Carol Mowdy Bond
The nonprofit Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program unveiled its capital campaign on March 6, with a $1 million goal.
The program recently found its “forever home” in Yukon. Still holding classes at the El Reno location, the equine program won’t officially open its new, barn doors until June. But on March 6, the staff revealed the new location, at 13420 Frisco Road in Yukon, at a Sip and See event with cookies and hot cocoa for everyone.
A generous donation from a Savannah Station supporter allowed the program to secure the new Yukon location. But, Savannah Station now enters the capital campaign stage to raise $1 million in additional funds to cover the costs of the loan, operating expenses, and the necessary facility improvements to accommodate the riders’ needs. The goal is to fully upgrade Savannah Station Riding Center, making it a state-of-the-art therapeutic riding center. The current property includes 20 acres of land with two indoor riding arenas and a round pen, a main barn with 10 stalls, a secondary stall barn and two modular homes.
Initial improvements involve making the entire property fully ADA compliant and cleaning and upgrading existing buildings; adding bathrooms, viewing areas, classrooms, office space, volunteer gathering space, parking space, inside and outside fencing and safety rails, as well as acquiring the necessary equipment to support the horses and care for the land and buildings.
Future plans, as funds are made available, will allow for more horses and pasture space, UTV, a garden an electric entrance gate, a sensory trail for trail riding, and more.
There are also expansion plans that include programs for seniors, veterans, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, community outreach programs, a competitive show team, and more. Executive Director Andi Holland said, “These often under-served groups can all be given hope and encouragement through connection with our wonderful horses.”
The capital campaign goals include: paying the $284,000 mortgage note; $200,000 for a large 100 feet by 150 feet indoor arena; $100,000 for the main barn; $100,000 for pipe and cable perimeter fencing for 20 acres; $75,000 for small, indoor arena for private lessons and small groups; $50,000 for the parking lot; $35,000 for the stall barn; $35,000 for covered patio with picnic tables and fire pit; $30,000 for tractor with front loader and hay spike; $20,000 for climate controlled family room viewing area for families to wait and watch their children ride; $20,000 each for three horse pastures; $20,000 for a professional entrance with white rail fence; $15,000 for utility terrain vehicle; $15,000 for ADA restroom; $12,000 for office desks and furnishings; $10,000 for a sensory riding trail with interactive activities; $10,000 for arena interior safety railing; $10,000 for equine medical room supplies and equipment storage; $8,000 for zero turn mower; $7,000 for feed room; $5,000 each for three tack rooms; $5,000 each for 10 main barns stalls; $5,000 for manure spreader; $5,000 for tractor attachment/arena groomer with water tank; $5,000 for arena seating; $4,000 for electric security gate; $1,000 each for two mounting ramps; $1,000 each for 17 secondary barn stalls; $1,000 for hay storage to hold winter forage supply; $800 for vegetable garden with plenty of carrots; $250 each for 15 three-tier saddle racks.
Those who invest in a naming opportunity – whether in honor or memory of a love one, or an organizations, or in your own name – are supporting the life-changing program of Savannah Station. And Beautiful plaques will enhance the new facilities, prominently and permanently displaying sponsorship recognition.
Savannah Station has a nine member board, 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 relies on donations, fundraising, and grants to keep the program properly funded and operational. Donations are tax deductible.
The program’s four staff members, all PATH certified, are: Andi Holland who is also executive director; Macaila Portz who is also facilities manager; Blu Phillips; and Theresa Tyler. As well, approximately 60 volunteers keep the program going.
“Horses are different than other animals from a physical perspective,” Holland said. “They can carry us. It’s so helpful to those with physical abilities. For persons who are in wheel chairs or use other mobility devices, riding on a horse is the only time they feel that sensation of walking. The riders have to use balance to stay on the horse. We play games on the horses. Riders don’t even realize they’re working. They are able to increase flexibility, develop balance, improve coordination, help their breathing, improve coping skills, build self-confidence, and improve social skills.”
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, for children and adults, address a number of special challenges including Autism, brain injuries, cardiovascular disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, deafness, Down’s 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.
“Imagine a young organization like Savannah Station daring to dream of owning this incredible horse facility on Frisco Road, in the perfect location, that in one fell swoop sets the program up for life,” Holland said. “It is nothing short of miraculous! This property allows Savannah Station to dream big dreams. Immense program expansion with multiple therapeutic riding classes all taking place at the same time in three different arenas! Reaching out to provide numerous school systems therapeutic riding services for their special education students. The possibilities are heart melting, mind blowing and endless!”
“Savannah Station has been God’s program from the beginning,” Holland said. “He has opened countless doors.”
The program started as a mobile program. But for the last three years, the program rented space in a large facility at 9304 N. Highway 81, in El Reno. And spring 2021 classes will continue at that location until the current semester ends.
If interested in the capital campaign, or naming option ideas, or a tour, or to connect with the program, call (580) 278-6657, or email ED1@SavannahStation.org, or go online to http://www.SavannahStation.org.