Becky Mills

WETRA receives $10,000 for specialized equipment from Caesars Windsor Cares

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Those who are involved with Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s (WETRA) programming will be seeing more benefits soon.

Thanks to $10,000 from Caesars Windsor Cares, WETRA will be purchasing specialized equipment for their tack room. The equipment will then be available to help those with disabilities who participate in their various programs.

“It will benefit our programs greatly,” said Becky Mills, executive director at WETRA.

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) received a $10,000 grant from Caesars Windsor Cares last Wednesday morning. WETRA will use the funding for specialized equipment for the people they support.

Jhoan Baluyot, manager of public relations and communications with Caesars Windsor, said they were impressed with a recent tour of WETRA as the grant request was being reviewed.

“The first time we came to see the facility and the operation, we were awestruck,” stated Baluyot.

Mills said all the new equipment will be kept in the tack room and that a plaque will be installed on the door to recognize the donation.

“We believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience horses in their own way,” said Mills. “We strive to achieve results that meet everyone’s goals.”

Dr. Erica Stevens Abbitt, whose husband Jerry participates in a WETRA program, said her husband has benefitted from it greatly.

Caesars Windsor manager of public relations and communications Jhoan Baluyot (left) makes the $10,000 cheque presentation to WETRA executive director Becky Mills.

“The people here are amazing,” said Stevens Abbitt. “The facilities are wonderful. As soon as started to get into carriage riding, he loved it.”

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Jerry. “It gets you in the air. It opens you up to the world around you.”

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association is located at 3323 North Malden Road in McGregor. Their phone number is 519-726-7682 and their e-mail is info@wetra.ca. WETRA’s website is www.wetra.ca.

 

 

Farm Credit Canada assists WETRA in acquiring new tractor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) now has the funding for the acquisition of a new tractor.

WETRA was approved for one of 78 grants from Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) AgriSpirit Fund and received $25,000 to help fund the purchase of a new tractor for the McGregor facility. An official presentation was made last week.

Becky Mills, executive director at WETRA, thanked the two FCC officials that attended the announcement for the contribution to the tractor fund.

Sina Naebkhil from WETRA, Debra Wadia and Anne Baldo from Farm Credit Canada, and WETRA executive director conduct a cheque presentation in front of the old tractor WETRA is replacing. Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit grant program is funding a new tractor to the tune of $25,000.

“As you know, no farm is complete without a tractor, the workhorse of the agricultural and maintenance aspects of running a rural operation,” said Mills. “Here at WETRA, horses are the modality for which our therapy services take place and it brings a whole other aspect of running our programs when caring for the therapy horses. Maintaining pastures, stalls, manure piles and riding areas as well as fertilizing, cutting and harvesting our 22 acres of hay is essential to sustaining optimal health within our herd and it becomes a full-time job in and of itself.”

Mills added that the tractor “will not side idle for more than a few hours a week” and noted that it is absolutely necessary for WETRA’s operation.

“We simply cannot survive without a fully functional, updated tractor,” said Mills.

Mills added that WETRA has been providing services to people with disabilities since 1963 and thanks to the support of funders like FCC, “we are able to continue with our mission and ensure that those in need will have the opportunity to experience life on a horse farm and feel good about the environment in which they are warmly received by such gentle animals.”

FCC was represented by senior district manager Debra Wadia and relationship manager Anne Baldo. Wadia said the AgriSpirit fund has been around since 2004. In 2016, a total of $1 million was distributed through grants across Canada with that number upped to $1.5 million in 2017 in recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Wadia said FCC has a rating system of how to look at grant applications and WETRA “hit all of them.”

Awarding grants to organizations such as WETRA “is the best part of my job,” Baldo added.

The FCC AgriSpirit Fund awards between $5,000 and $25,000 for community improvement projects. There were 1,214 applications received this year with proceeds going to rural, small town Canadian projects. Over the past 14 years, the FCC AgriSpirit Fund has supported almost 1,100 projects, an investment of more than $12 million.

WETRA hosts third annual “Strides for Stability” horse show

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Billed as “equestrians making a difference,” the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association held a horse show over Labour Day weekend with a fun and fundraising twist to it.

WETRA presented the third annual “Strides for Stability” horse show Sept. 2-3 with executive director Becky Mills stating “local equestrians thought it would be nice to host a fun horse show” with friends helping to sponsor the divisions the riders participated in.

Jacob O’Neill and his horse Peak My Curiosity jump over an obstacle during the “Strides for Stability” horse show at the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) over the Labour Day weekend.

Jacob O’Neill and his horse Peak My Curiosity jump over an obstacle during the “Strides for Stability” horse show at the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) over the Labour Day weekend.

The event was held as a fundraiser for WETRA, which helps offer therapeutic riding lessons for those with disabilities. The weekend show allowed riders of all ages and abilities a chance to have fun and showcase their skills.

“They raise over $12,000 every year and they hope to do it again this year,” said Mills.

Jacqueline Chevalier, co-ordinator of the “Strides for Stability” horse show, believed the event actually surpassed the $12,000 mark this year. Noting she grew up around WETRA since she was younger as her mother was a board member, Chevalier said the idea was created a few years ago to have local barns from around Windsor-Essex County come together for a fun event.

Those who are part of WETRA’s program get to participate, Chevalier added, as it can be difficult for them to travel to other barns to compete. At “Strides for Stability,” the WETRA riders are on their own ring and familiar with the surroundings.

Tamara Kryway and her horse R. Kallisto compete at the third annual Strides for Stability horse show at WETRA last Saturday.

Tamara Kryway and her horse R. Kallisto compete at the third annual Strides for Stability horse show at WETRA last Saturday.

Horse barns from around the area are great in supporting WETRA, Chevalier said, as “WETRA is a huge part of the community.”

“We’re happy to have people support it,” she added. “It’s competitive but we want people to come out and have fun.”

The Border City Barkers were also on hand with the agility dog team competing with and against jumper horses in competitions. There were also awards, raffles and a chance to visit the therapy horses offered as part of the weekend.

WETRA is located at 3323 North Malden Road, just south of McGregor, and more information can be found at www.wetra.ca.

WETRA receives Ontario150 Community Capital Program Funding to pave accessible parking spaces

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has allowed a local therapeutic riding association to pave accessible parking spaces for their clients.

Since the new facility was built in 2011, the gravel parking lot has posed many restrictions and hardships on the number of people the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association services each week. When the facility was built, they ensured a portico was build so their clients families could pull up underneath it and drop off their client, however if there happen to be several families coming through at once, the portico got very congested, and staff noted the harsh winter conditions often made the gravel parking lot incredibly treacherous.

“The Ontario 150 Community Capital Program’s contribution to the project will allow over 200 people served here each week to safely park and exit their vehicles without the barrier of stones underneath walkers and wheelchairs as well as provide stability under foot for all who enjoy our equine therapy services,” explained Becky Mills, managing director, CTR11 and Path Intl., and certified instructor. “Our facility brings together volunteers, riders, caregivers and community members every day, and the new parking spaces will add a more inviting element to our center.”

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA's recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA’s recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

WETRA was founded in 1963 by Dr. Elmer Butt in Windsor. Mills explained he was a local radiologist and operated out of a small facility on five acres in Windsor, which is where WETRA remained until 2011. Once they had the opportunity to move into a new building and create a facility of 72 acres of land in the county, it was a no brainer. Since their build, they have been focusing on one project at a time.

“It’s amazing how accessibility can be granted by just a little bit of cement and lift the barrier the gravel driveway presented,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “For you to recognize that and to put together a plan with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and your donors and volunteers, that goes a long way to ensure that this facility is accessible and puts your at the top as being champions in accessibility.”

Just 14,000 square feet of space was paved, and considering the overall size of their parking lot, Mills said it might not look like much but it came with a total price tag of $36,000. Of that, $26,000 was grant money and the additional $10,000 was raised through WETRA’s numerous initiatives such as selling t-shirts out of their facility.

The organizations services approximately 69 different diagnoses of people, and they are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to make accessibility easier for their clients.

“It’s the most rewarding job, I think,” said Mills. “I just get so much enjoyment and reward out of it. Even though I don’t get to be in the thick of the program the way I used to be as the head instructor, I’m away from that now, but I know this is a very vital part of the program and I still feel it’s very rewarding.”

WETRA holds open house, launches new program

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) opened its doors Sunday afternoon and has also launched a new program.

Managing director Becky Mills said the event was a way to raise awareness of the McGregor-based organization and to let the community know of what is offered there.

he Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) held an open house Sunday afternoon where they also launched their new “Mighty Minis” program. Dawn and Mya Mulder visit with one of the horses.

he Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) held an open house Sunday afternoon where they also launched their new “Mighty Minis” program. Dawn and Mya Mulder visit with one of the horses.

“We have people asking who we are and what we do,” explained Mills. “We decided to have the people come out. We found people were asking us so much that we decided to have another open house.”

Mills said was a new initiative to have people come for a tour in the winter but noted summer open houses have been held there before.

WETRA also launched its new “Mighty Minis” program in which they take miniature horses to sick children who can’t make it to the farm. The program is run in conjunction with WE Care for Kids. Mills said they not only take horses, but other animals as well such as Merv the Pig in order to brighten the day of children with illnesses.

The organization is also looking for names of children whom they can help with the “Mighty Minis” program.

Maksym and Arienna Wolicki pet a rabbit held by  WETRA managing director Becky Mills.

Maksym and Arienna Wolicki pet a rabbit held by  WETRA managing director Becky Mills.

“If you know of a child who can’t leave home, by all means give us a call and we’ll arrange a visit to their home,” said Mills.

Sunday afternoon’s event saw carriage rides with the aid of Back-N-Time horse-drawn carriages of Amherstburg, a chance for children and adults to meet the horses and other animals on the farm, as well as arts and crafts for children and an opportunity for adults to have their questions answered.

“We’re hoping we can raise awareness for donations today,” Mills added, noting they offer a small fee for service but it’s not enough to cover program costs and other expenditures.

The mission statement of WETRA states they are “committed to improving the quality of life of persons with physical, mental and emotional challenges through equine related therapy.” Mills said WETRA works with roughly 200 people per week with 80 per cent being children and youth and 20 per cent being adults.

Claire Sasso (left) pets one of the miniature horses at WETRA’s open house Jan. 29.

Claire Sasso pets one of the miniature horses at WETRA’s open house Jan. 29.

For more information about WETRA, call 519-726-7682, e-mail info@wetra.ca or visit www.wetra.ca. They are located at 3323 North Malden Road.

“We’re happy to have people out,” said Mills. “We’re happy to share.”