[KHTS] – A longtime Santa Clarita Valley nonprofit providing equestrian therapy classes to disabled and special needs children began construction on the creation of a long-awaited covered arena, officials said Wednesday.
The project, which has been in the works since 2005, will allow Carousel Ranch to offer more classes in a variety of weather conditions, a factor that led to more than 450 cancelled sessions in 2012, ranch officials said.
“We had a little girl in first-stage heat stroke after 20 minutes on a horse,” said Denise Tomey-Redmond, executive director of Carousel Ranch. “A lot of our kids are in fragile health and overheat quickly… We cancel quite a few lessons per year, mainly because of the heat.”
The covered arena would allow both riders and staff members teaching lessons to be protected from the heat, sun and rain and allow sessions to be more comfortable for everyone, she said.
Carousel Ranch officials have been raising funds for the project since 2005, but were forced to put it on hold when the economy changed around 2007.
They re-opened the project in 2010 after a $75,000 donation by the John Gogian Family Foundation, and have continued to collect contributions after the creation of the Raise the Roof campaign, ranch officials said.
“The covered arena has been a long time dream,” she said. “It’s one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened here… The community’s been amazing and really got behind the project, and that’s what made it happen.”
Major construction on the roof of the arena is scheduled for sometime next week and the project is expected to be completed by mid-May.
While staff plan to teach in the arena immediately after its completion, there will be a second phase of improvements in the following months, including hanging sponsor signage, creating paved walkways for wheelchair access and more, Tomey-Redmond said.
All improvements are scheduled to be completed by July, when staff will have a celebratory ribbon-cutting event at their brand new arena.
For more information about Carousel Ranch, click here.
For more information about the Raise the Roof campaign or to donate, click here.