The North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association’s goal is to redefine a horse lover’s reason to ride.
With a focus on therapeutic holistic health, the non-profit organization has been in existence since 1984 Sunday, NOTRA organizers and participants took to Coldstream Ranch to take part in the 27th annual fundraiser.
Horse therapy, also known as equestrian or equine-assisted therapy, is a versatile treatment program for recovery and aid for all kinds of medical conditions. This includes PTSD, autism and mood disorders. According to program director Dani Goldenthal, Coldstream Ranch has hosted the event since the first ride-a-thon.
“The original founder of the North Okanagan Riding Association used to own the ranch so that’s how it actually started out,” said Goldenthal. “So we’re pretty lucky to get to do this every year.”
After a rainy Saturday in Vernon, the sun peaked out Sunday morning just in time. Registration began at 9:30 a.m. with 30 participants taking to the trail around 10 a.m. The ride took participants about two hours to complete.
Livened up even further by adding a poker element, participants stopped at five stations strategically located throughout the ride to collect cards from staff. The two people with the best poker hand at the end of the ride won a prize.
Search and Rescue was also on site to make sure the ride went smoothly. The occasion concluded with a free lunch and a silent auction.
Those who raised the most money in the adult category and the youth category also won prize packages. For every $20 in pledges people brought in they also had their name put in the grand prize draw for a trip for two for two nights including breakfast in a standard cabin at Wells Gray Guest Ranch.
The ride-a-thon raised funds for the organization through pledges, donations and tack sales with all proceeds going towards running the non-profit group.
“At the end of the day, the event raised over $5,000,” said NOTRA fundraising chair Jennifer Knox. “We’re really pleased with that.”
Typically spring and fall riding sessions are held at O’Keefe Ranch near Vernon with weekly lessons are offered Monday- Thursday. Usually, about 70 to 80 clients take part in these riding sessions with a team of over 50 volunteers needed to support and run programs.
Unfortunately, Knox said, the fall sessions won’t be taking place this year. Instead, organizers are using the time to rebuild the program and find more volunteers.
“We are tweaking the program to best suit the riders and training more staff,” said Knox.
NOTRA is planning for sessions to resume early spring with fundraisers like the ride-a-thon helping ensure this is possible.
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