By Lynne Phillips
Firelands Farmer Correspondent
Wanted: a new home for therapeutic riding program. Stampede of Dreams (SOD) Board of Directors President Lisa Myatt said the program started six years ago in 2009 at Whispering Reins in Norwalk. It was the brain child and dream of the late Sandy Lovato, according to Myatt.
"I met Sandy through some other horse stuff and she got the board together in the fall of 2008." Myatt related, "She was passionate about the program it was all she talked about when I would see her. This was her dream and she was driven."
The program has been moved several times since its first location ending up at Don and Angie Leto's. "They have been very, very gracious," said Myatt.
"When we initially startedthere we had four horses and one of our instructors was also trailering her horses there for lessons. Then last year we had only two horses at Leto's which greatly diminished our ability to serve kids. That is where we are at now."
Currently the program's horses are being stabled at different locations, at Leto's, at a location on Dublin Road, and also at locations in Wakeman and Bellevue.
"Last year for spring trainingwe were out on Fayette Road where we had an arena for training but that facility has been sold. Now we are scattered all over the county," she commented.
SOD is a program established to provide quality equine assisted horseback riding lessons that provides therapeutic benefits for children and adults with special needs. It serves Huron County and surrounding areas.
SOD is a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH).
"We are in dire straits," said Myatt, "and are in jeopardy of not having a program." Explaining she said, "If wecan't train our horses in the spring we can't put kids onthem."
SOD suffered greatly with the loss of its program's director and instructor Sandy Lovato last year. "We were able to finish our fall season," Myatt said sadly. "But again, we are in dire straits and there isn't another program like this one in Huron County." She pointed out, "We have about 30 to 40 kids at any one time on our waiting list.
"We can have our sessions at Leto's but we can only have two horses."
In 2014 there were 14 to 16 children involved in the program, according to Myatt.
"Short term," she said, "we need an indoor arena at least by April 1. For spring training we need a place for at least four horses, possibly more. Right now we have three horses that have to have that spring training as well as some volunteers. We try to keep consistency among the horses and the same with volunteers. We try to keep them with the same horse.
"Volunteer wise," Myatt said, "we have over 60. We have a great volunteer program. These people have committed their time for training and with only two horses we aren't able to utilize all of our volunteers. They give freely of their time and if they aren't being used, that is frustrating for us as well as for them.
"Long term," she said, "if we had the right facility we could serve 60 to 80 kids each week. It would need to be a facility where we could have ten to 12 horses. That is what we are striving for.
"Huron County has been incredibly supportive and generous to us over the years and we are very, very grateful. But if we aren't able to have sessions this year I am afraid we could be dead in the water."
SOD, according to Myatt, is a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit and all donations are tax deductible.
To contact Myatt call 419-357-4904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.