Heather Henderson offers a handful of hay up to a favourite horse standing where Arion Therapeutic Farm's new riding ring will sit. Below: The site of the new riding ring about to be built on the non=profit farm.

Heather Henderson offers a handful of hay up to a favourite horse standing where Arion Therapeutic Farm's new riding ring will sit. Below: The site of the new riding ring about to be built on the non=profit farm.

Arion farm ready to build East Kelowna riding ring

A therapeutic facility in East Kelowna hopes to break ground on a new riding ring funded by the community

  • Aug. 14, 2013 7:00 p.m.

Less than a year after Arion Therapeutic Farm went public with a plea to have the community help fund construction of a new covered riding ring, the money is in the bank.

The farm has now raised $120,000—in large part due to the combined efforts of the Capri, Ogopogo and downtown Kelowna rotary clubs that collectively pulled $50,000 toward the effort—and will soon begin construction on its new addition.

“We’re so very close to our goal and so very thankful for all the support,” said Heather Henderson, founder and executive director. “When you consider we’ve had donations of $20 come in, you know the community has really rallied around this idea.”

Arion is a homegrown charity servicing every demographic within Kelowna from toddlers to seniors. It offers those with special needs or physical or mental health ailments a place to recuperate, seek out different forms of therapy and make a connection with nature. But it has also runs a number of after-school programs, summer camps, employment programs and housing initiatives targeting a wide swath of needs.

Arion farm“It’s not always about the obvious here,” explained Henderson. “Sometimes it’s just about meeting people where they’re at.”

Over the four years since it opened its doors this has meant encouraging volunteerism among corporate groups and providing university students with practicum experience and business projects. It has meant developing a niche to serve Autistic children and their families. And it has meant letting seniors come out to feed the animals and enjoy some fresh air.

But the backbone of the facility has always been its therapeutic riding program and the ring will make it possible to finally start meeting the demand.

“Right now, we can only run therapeutic riding for four hours in the morning—and it’s packed,” said Henderson.

The young riders and those with serious physical challenges cannot withstand the heat and it’s the same problem come winter when cold weather forces some out. When one considers the farm is averaging 100 riders a week, paring down to just four hours a day makes for a tough schedule for the horses and staff.

The new riding ring will help alleviate many of the issues and ensure the farm moves toward a sustainable financial picture after an unprecedented growth spurt. Opening in 2009, it’s acquired its own property, been certified by Community Living BC to act as a housing provider, added 13 programs to its roster and a full compliment of animals.

In order to break ground on the ring, the non-profit society running Arion still needs to find someone to handle its excavating pro bono and trades people, like a plumber and skilled labour, to help bring the six-week build in under budget.

To help, contact Arion Therapeutic Farm 778-477-1006.

Twitter: @jaswrites

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