Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week, we salute Reins of Life.
This week’s honoree:
Reins of Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Indiana. Amanda Bubb, barn manager and PATH International-certified riding instructor, kindly answered our questions.
Reins of Life Mission Statement: To improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities through equine assisted activities.
The Reins of Life Vision:
- To promote the mental, physical, emotional and social growth of all involved in the program
- To educate the community regarding the benefits of riding as therapy, and the abilities of children and adults with disabilities
- To improve the attitudes of society toward persons with disabilities
How did Reins of Life get started?
Reins began in 1978 when Valery (deLusignan) St. Clair decided to combine her love of children with her love of horses and began a program that served 8 children with physical and cognitive disabilities.
From 1978-1991 Reins used borrowed arenas, equipment, and tack to provide services to individuals with disabilities of St. Joseph County, Indiana. Dedicated volunteers transported borrowed horses by trailer to the lesson sites each day. In 1991, the organization found a permanent home when Nancy and Lloyd Taylor donated 20 acres of their land to build our South Bend location.
An unprecedented opportunity to expand the organization’s services came in June of 2007 in the form of the donation of a 46-acre property in Michigan City. Royal Acres Equestrian Center was donated by a Chicago couple, Todd and Janice Much, and was valued at $2 million. Therapeutic riding lessons began in Michigan City on September 10, 2007 with 16 riders in the first session. This has allowed us to expand our services to individuals from a 10-county area in Michigan and Indiana.
Please describe your facility, horses and staff.
We have 2 facilities: a 20-acre facility in South Bend, Indiana and a 46-acre facility in Michigan City, Indiana. Both facilities have indoor and outdoor arenas, horse barns with stalls, turnout areas with sheds, separate barns for hay and equipment storage and riding trails with sensory stations to utilize in our lessons.
Our 36 equines have all been carefully screened and selected to make sure they are suitable for our program. We have everything from miniature horses and donkeys that we use to take out into the community to visit schools, libraries and nursing homes to larger horses and ponies that we use for riding all the way up to a couple of draft horses that we use for our larger adults. We have a staff of 5 full-time employees and 7 part-time employees with a variety of backgrounds in a variety of equine and corporate areas.
What kind of volunteer help do you need to operate? Where do you volunteers come from?
Reins couldn’t operate without our volunteers! Over 1,300 volunteers give us almost 20,000 volunteer hours annually in a variety of areas: they help care for our horses and our facilities, they work with our students during our classes, they help with special events and fundraisers and a million other things that occur on any given day. Our volunteers, who are at least 13 years old, come from the local community. They are students, parents, professionals and retirees who bring with them a wealth of backgrounds and experiences in a variety of areas.
Any upcoming fundraisers or events you’d like to share?
We have two upcoming fundraisers. We are hosting a MDC- and IDS-sanctioned dressage show at our South Bend facility on June 13th and 14th. We are holding a golf outing on July 13th. We have also been nominated to win a Gypsy Vanner horse for our program. The winners are determined by votes on Facebook. We would love it if readers would take the time to use this link to vote for Reins of Life every 24 hours until the end of August to help us win a Gypsy for our program!
Anything else important that our readers should know?
Reins of Life truly is a magical place! I have seen students walk or talk for the first time. I have seen students gain confidence and self-esteem. I have seen young volunteers mature into responsible adults and I, personally, have learned many life lessons. I would recommend to anyone that they find a center near them and set up a time to visit and get involved. It won’t be something you regret! You can find a center near you by going visiting the PATH website.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.