For the first time ever, riders at Exceptional Equestrians of the Missouri Valley (EEMV), Washington, are able to have lessons in January without the threat of frigid temperatures or snow thanks to its newly renovated facility.
Riders and spectators had the opportunity to use the facility during the first lessons of the new year Monday, Jan. 7.
Renovations, which were completed this past summer, feature a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled arena and viewing area, as well as a 15-stall barn, separate from the arena.
This is the first time EEMV, which offers therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults with special needs, has been able to offer lessons in January.
Prior to the renovation, which took about six months, parents and family members had to stand outside to watch riders. Clients had to bundle up because lessons were held both indoors and outdoors.
Additionally, clients in wheelchairs had to mount the horse outside. With special ramps that are now indoors, riders can mount and ride the horse without leaving the arena.
Spectators can enjoy watching lessons from a heated viewing lounge, which includes a fireplace and WiFi access.
The barn offers stalls for 15 horses, a tack room, feed room and wash bay.
Kyla Somerville, administrative manager, said the new facility has been a benefit to riders and their families.
“Even those who are medically fragile, we can now offer a heated arena for them to work in,” she said.
The renovations were made possible through Missouri Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits offered through the Department of Economic Development.
“We’re looking forward to serving all the clients we can,” said Somerville. “We are all really excited about the new potential at Exceptional Equestrians.”
The organization currently serves about 100 clients, ages 2 and older, in Franklin and surrounding counties.
Somerville said she is excited to continue a partnership with Developmental Services of Franklin County, which is funded by the citizens of Franklin County.
Gildehaus Construction, New Haven, Eagan Building Group and AJ Unnerstall Excavating, both of Washington, completed the renovation work.
EEMV is seeking volunteers, age 14 and older, to assist with a variety of activities.
Volunteers are needed to walk next to riders and provide physical and emotional support, lead horses, help in the barn and other duties.
Prior experience with horses or disabilities is not required. Volunteers are needed during the day or in the evenings on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
To register for one of the training sessions or for more information, people may call Exceptional Equestrians, 636-390-2141, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer registration forms and additional information also are available on the volunteer portion of the website, www.eemv.org.