By Daphne Davey

Rainbow Riders Raise It Up

Good news deserves to be shared. Great news deserves to be celebrated! So let’s send a message of congratulations from all across the country to Rainbow Riders in St. John’s on the recent “grand unveil” of their spanking new therapeutic riding facility right in the city, rising like a phoenix from the inhibiting deficiencies of the old.

Rainbow Riders was cofounded in 1990 by the late Andrea Gillies with Margaret (Mugs) Tibbo, recreation specialist at the Janeway Rehabilitation Centre. Perhaps Rainbow Riders’ proudest achievement was to introduce Robyn Andrews to therapeutic riding, the first steps on her way to representing Canada at the Paralympic Dressage Competition in Rio 2016.

Therapy pony Pickles in a wheelchair-accessible grooming stall, with detachable saddle rack in position. Photo: Daphne Davey

Over the years, Mugs Tibbo has referred many clients from the Janeway. But the program was unable to handle the demand without greatly improved facilities. An inspired “Raise It Up” fundraising campaign brought in support from every direction (and a guest visit from Princess Anne to turn the sod in 2016) and  Voilà!  Rainbow Riders is back in business and ready to expand.

Now the barriers are down. The spacious complex is truly a dream come true. Fully wheelchair-accessible, it includes a horse barn with grooming stalls, wash stalls, tack room/laundry, multipurpose room, offices and kitchen, roomy washrooms, a huge arena, and nine nearby turnout paddocks. One young rider, strapped into a custom-designed electric wheelchair, was asked what he thinks. For the very first time he was able to maneuver himself from one area of the building to another using only his joystick. Hallelujah!

Mugs Tibbo and Daphne Davey (representing CanTRA) with Paralympian Robyn Andrews. Photo courtesy of Daphne Davey

Rainbow Riders received such enormous community support because the program could demonstrate the benefits  physical, psychological, recreational, and competitive  of therapeutic riding to children and adults with disabilities. Let the achievement of Rainbow Riders inspire all of us at our local centres to “Go for the Gold” and make our own particular phoenix rise in our time of need.

Your donation to www.CanTRA.ca or www.CanadaHelps.org will make a difference to a child or adult with a disability.

Main photo: The colourful exterior of the facility with the old arena (now storage) in the background. Photo: Daphne Davey

Category: 
National

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