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PARDS using new therapeutic riding facility

A new facility in the County of Grande Prairie will soon provide 650 residents with a new place to ride horses. Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society Executive Director Jennifer Douglas says they needed a larger area in order to accommodate more riders.

“The idea for the new facility started in about 2003 when our ridership increased significantly and we recognized that moving forward long term the facility that we had just east of town was not going to accommodate everybody that was looking to access our services.”

PARDS is a therapeutic riding facility that specializes in providing programming to people with physical, cognitive, behavioural and social challenges. Douglas says that riding horses is a great tool for the 350 riders they have in their therapeutic program.

“The movement of a horse is the only thing outside of human movement that mimics that same walking motion. For people with cerebral palsy or another physical disability, you are actually moving the same joints and muscles you would be if you were able to walk on your own.”

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The new space is located on 55 acres attached to Evergreen Park. In addition to a larger arena, they also have a new barn with space indoors for 45 horses and 25 stalls outdoors for boarding which will provide the organization with extra revenue. Douglas says she is glad to be in the new facility because the old location had its challenges.

“It has been a long time coming and the riders that we serve needed this facility. There were some challenges with the size of the arena at the old one. There were lots of activities that we just weren’t able to do safely. Our new arena is four times the size of what we had before so we can now accommodate every type of horsemanship activity including competition.”

PARDS has been offering programs out of the new facility since last September but will be holding a grand opening celebration open to the public on September 15th.

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