A Brief History and Vision
HOPE Equestrian Center was founded in 1988 by Gwen Scott. Initially located in Wimer, Oregon, HOPE offerered therapeutic horseback riding to over 40 riders per week for over five years. At that time the program was accredited by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association and operated with a small staff and board. After five years, finding it difficult to involve the broader community due to its remote location, HOPE unfortunately closed. The HOPE board actively sought to find those who would be interested and capable of taking over the program and reopening HOPE. In October of 1993, a group of people made up of parents of former riders, riding instructors and other horse enthusiasts, as well as representatives from the medical community, met to determine how to bring this remarkable and valuable service back to the Valley.
The new HOPE secured a central location in spring ’94 near Interstate-5 south of Medford. Trish Broersma, who founded and directed a similar therapeutic riding program in San Antonio, Texas, became the new director. A pilot program was offered the summer of August, 1994 and served 15 disabled riders. Enthusiasm from parents and riders encouraged the committee to schedule a fall and spring session, and the student count increased to 20 riders. In June ’95 the program moved to a larger facility, where the number of riders expanded to 28 per week. HOPE moved again in December of that year to Eagle Point where it operated for four and a half years, serving an average of 60 riders per week. In the fall of 2000, HOPE moved to a new and larger facility at Wagner Creek Farm outside Talent, where it operated until January, 2004. At that time, daily operations were suspended until a firm financial foundation could be established to enable resumption of services.
In the Spring of 2005, HOPE once again opened it "doors". The first few years we stayed small focusing on stability. In 2007 we hired our current executive director Angie Ballard. In 2010 our two path certified instructors Megan Wingler and Tim Womack went from volunteer status to employees. HOPE has continued to grow and now serves over 250 riders annually with special needs. Located on over 20 acres of farm and pasture land in Eagle Point, Oregon, our facility is a welcome departure from the more traditional therapeutic settings. We are proud to say that in 2012 we finished our covered arena project and now have a permanent home. Not only do we have a nice covered arena, we also have an outdoor obstacle course and trail rides for our clients to participate in. HOPE focuses on a therapeutic approach to riding as opposed to a primarily recreational approach. There continues to be growing interest in the Northwest to support programs that synthesize disciplines; therapeutic riding is designed for just that, bringing together equine activity with conventional medicine, art and alternative forms of healing. It offers a very effective piece in a person’s overall life growth process, joining many dynamics that are often not present in traditional therapy situations. Feasibility studies on therapeutic riding conducted by Southern Oregon University have shown that over 35% of the disabled individuals in the Rogue Valley can benefit from physical activity like therapeutic riding. It is our desire to be able to serve all special needs individuals who could benefit from a therapeutic riding program in the Rogue Valley.
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