In 1990, Ark Regional Services began a Hippotherapy program on a part time basis with one horse in a rented arena. The program was more successful than anticipated, and by 1992, an indoor riding arena had been constructed, 15 individuals were receiving services, and the herd had grown to three.
For years we watched many of the children and adults for whom we provided services grow in strength, ability, and confidence. We were able to see firsthand the amazing benefits that Hippotherapy provided to people and the impact it had on their lives. As with any kind of therapy, some people had physical needs that posed unique challenges for the
therapists. One such challenge was being able to support an individual with limited strength, balance and trunk stability to sit safely upon a horse. To alleviate this, Ed Ulrich, our Director of Equestrian Services, adapted a western saddle by attaching the upper seat of an office chair to the back of the saddle. It was clear this adaptation would make it possible for any person to participate more fully in Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding. In 2013, with the help of a local saddle
maker, a saddle was made using this design and continues to have a positive impact on the lives of many riders today!
Although people were benefiting from the services provided through Hippotherapy, Ark believed that there were many other ways people could benefit from what the Equestrian Center had to offer. In 2008, we began providing support services for individuals with developmental disabilities. These individuals began working alongside horse professionals in order to complete tasks necessary to care for the horses and to run a fully functioning equestrian center. These
services provided the opportunity to learn valuable work and life skills such as reading and writing, problem solving, communication and social skills.
In 2011, Ark’s horticultural program moved to the Equestrian Center and grew by leaps and bounds. It was at this time that we were introduced to unique opportunities that mirrored the services and supports we were already providing. With the help from the Laramie Conservation District, we began raising worms, which were used to grow flowers and vegetables behind the arena. In 2012, the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension office donated a 12x32 high tunnel hoop house. As part of a community outreach class on hoop house design and building, the high tunnel hoop
house was constructed on the grounds of the Equestrian Center. Additionally, in 2012, with the help of our horse manure, we began turning compostable materials into outstanding compost, which further aided our growing efforts. Growing and caring for things, however, did not stop with flowers and vegetables. In May 2013, after becoming Laramie’s exclusive ADM feed dealer, we fed and raised two pigs to raffle off for our annual fundraiser. The individuals we support helped feed and care for the pigs and it was so much fun, we did it again for the next several years. As an
authorized ADM feed dealer we offer a complete line of horse, pet and show feeds.
2012 was a busy year for the Equestrian Center as we started the Adopt A Horse Program This Program allows donors a monthly giving option to pay for many, or all of the needs of a horse each year. In 2016, we held a fundraiser “Light the Arena”. This event successfully helped finance the installation of LED lights throughout the indoor arena, as well as lighting the outside of the building. In 2017, a “Fence the Arena” fundraiser was held which raised money to install
continuous fencing around the outdoor arena and turn out pen. In addition to donations that support the horses, Donors can not only give to support the horses, but can also give the gift of supporting financially disadvantaged students to participate in Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Learning Classes. Our efforts not only help to raise funds to support our Equestrian Center, but also raise awareness of the services we provide to individuals of all abilities.
Our services continued to expand and in 2016, Ark began offering Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) classes to both the students of Albany County School District #1, and to adults with developmental disabilities. Each year, over 130 students attend and participate in these classes. In addition to Equine Assisted Learning classes, we also offer Therapeutic Riding lessons. We also offer EAL classes to adults with developmental disabilities. In addition to Equine Assisted Learning
classes, we offer Therapeutic Riding classes. Both of these services are offered to children and adults of all abilities within our community. We currently have 10 horses that faithfully work their magic with our students.