WETRA

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.”

WETRA raises funds for programs in “spooktacular” fashion

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) raised some cash recently and had a spooky time doing it.

WETRA held its annual “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” recently at its location near McGregor. Becky Mills, managing director at WETRA, said they were looking to have a family-friendly event 12 years ago and the idea was developed.

“We provide activities with the horses,” she said, noting WETRA assists those with disabilities.

Gracie Mills and her horse Toby prepare to enter the barn. They were both dressed for the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” that was presented by WETRA.

Gracie Mills and her horse Toby prepare to enter the barn. They were both dressed for the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” that was presented by WETRA.

The “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” allowed children without disabilities to have a turn on WETRA’s horses, enjoy face painting, magic shows, balloon animals and other activities and even get some fire safety tips from Essex firefighters, as WETRA is located on North Malden Road, just east of Walker Road.

WETRA’s programs also include carriage driving and vocational work on the farm for those with disabilities.

“This is the biggest fundraiser all year,” said Mills.

The event usually brings in over $20,000 and sees over 2,000 people attend during the two days.

“We’re always trying to change it up a little bit and keep it new and fresh,” she said, adding the Headless Horseman is a popular attraction they do not change.

Magic shows were also part of the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm.”

Magic shows were also part of the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm.”

Children from around the area attended with their parents and grandparents with many of the kids dressed in costume.

“We utilize about 70 volunteers per night,” said Mills. “Obviously without them, we couldn’t put on the event or do our programming.”

WETRA sees roughly 200 people use its programs each week with the volunteers a key part of that. Mills said people come from Amherstburg, Essex, LaSalle and Kingsville and even as far as Belle River and Leamington.

While the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” is their biggest fundraiser, it is far from their only event. Mills said seven events have been held at WETRA this year.

Nova Equestrian Centre does well at “Strides for Stability”

 

Special to the RTT

The Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association  (WETRA) hosted the “Strides for Stability” charity show Oct. 2-3 and a local barn did well.

Over the two-day competition, with Hunter/Jumper on Saturday and Dressage on Sunday, Nova Equestrian Centre had many top placings earning the Top Barn award for 2016.

Jessica Buterbaugh and her riders from Nova Equestrian Centre did well at WETRA’s recent “Strides for Stability.” (Special to the RTT)

Jessica Buterbaugh and her riders from Nova Equestrian Centre did well at WETRA’s recent “Strides for Stability.” (Special to the RTT)

Jessica Buterbaugh is the owner of Nova Equestrian Centre and the coach/trainer of all the Nova riders and horses. Riders from Nova who competed at this show and helped win Top Barn were: Sarina Italiano, Emilia Quiggiotto, Judy Lafleur, Haley Williams, Chantal Laliberte, Lily Skacavac, Sommer Franz, Tatiana Teplovs, Sasha Teplovs, and Jessica Buterbaugh.

Honourable mentions to Sarina Italiano for winning the Dressage High Point Junior trophy and Sommer Franz for coming second place in the Hunter Derby. All of the riders had a variety of top placings to help bring home the Top Barn trophy!

Thank you WETRA, Jacqueline Chevalier, Stonehaven Farm, and all of the Strides for Stability team for putting on a great show!