Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 19, 2013

Equi*Star the Ranch open house offers family fun

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A perfect Sunday afternoon for the family is right in your own backyard, as Equi*Star hosts its annual open house on Fuller Road in Burt on July 28. Bring the whole family for an afternoon of food, fun, activities, a basket auction and a chance to see the sprawling ranch that helps so many special needs children and adults in Western New York. There’s something for everybody and admission is free, so saddle up and head down to Equi*Star.

The whole family can enjoy summer fun at the Equi*Star Open House, even if you don’t ride horses. The kids can get up close and personal with the beautiful animals that inspire their riders and maybe even take a pony ride. You’ll definitely want the family camera along at the beautiful ranch.

The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. and features a pulled pork dinner, live music, pony and hay rides, petting zoo, a pie-judging contest, 50/50 split drawing and 25-cent games for the kids. There is a great basket auction and winners need not be present, so drop by and take a chance on some wonderful prizes.

Back by popular demand are trick rider Leah Hunt and her horse Silver, from Prairie Star. Equi*Star students will participate in drill team demos from 3 to 4 p.m. to showcase their skills. One student has been working with Equi*Star’s personal pony, Missy, and a wagon. Lucy, the bigger pony, will pull her cart for another student.

“It’s a wonderful way for folks to see how determined these riders are,” said volunteer Sandy Klinger. “They are very excited about performing.”

The entertainment begins with Reunion at 12:30 p.m. The Barker Community Band performs at 2 p.m. and Leo Smith will lend his vocal talents throughout the afternoon. Dottie Ryer and the line dancers are on tap as well. If you’re baking up fruit pies with the local harvest, bring a pie by 2 p.m. for the 2:30 p.m. judging. Everybody is welcome, young and old, farmers and city slickers. The ranch is located at 2199 Fuller Road in Burt.

In addition to the pulled pork dinner, visitors can buy cold drinks, hot dogs and baked goods throughout the day. Bring a chair or blanket, or grab a hay bale, and plan on spending an afternoon on the beautiful ranch. Admission and parking are free, making it an affordable family outing.

Many people still do not know what the Equi*Star program is about, or how they can become involved and support it. If you come out to the open house, you’ll meet the folks who hold this volunteer organization together.

Equi*Star was founded in 1994 by Miriam Smith. Miriam was a returning college student majoring in human services when she interned at a therapeutic riding center. This experience inspired her to launch her very own program specifically for people with disabilities.

The program started with one horse, a handful of volunteers, and a few riders. Equi*Star called a few local stables home before an area was purchased in Burt. With a lot of community support, the wooded area with hardly any access and a little old barn began to morph into the property you see today. 

Every year, Equi*Star seeks the expertise of volunteers as they continue to improve our facilities. An indoor arena was added and allows lessons to continue in all kinds of weather. More pasture fencing was installed to corral the growing number of therapy horses needed to fulfill their needs.

For a person with disabilities, therapeutic horseback riding is much more than just riding around the ring. It is a way to discover a whole new world of adventure, freedom and responsibility, dignity and achievement. It provides an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for everyone involved, the riders, volunteers, parents and instructors.

Equi*Star is a non-profit organization that enables individuals of all ages with special needs to experience the thrill of horseback riding. The mission has been to enrich the lives of people with disabilities through equine related activities. They provide therapeutic riding lessons for children and adults with varying conditions, such as Cerebral Palsy, developmental delays, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Trisomy 21, anxiety, and much more.

Therapeutic riding is recognized by the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association. Research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards.

The group’s website at www.equistartheranch.org has photos, brochures, and all information needed to become a part of the jewel in the community. Volunteers are always welcome and no experience is necessary. There are opportunities to help, which don’t even involve horse contact, such as fund-raising. Volunteer coordinator Janice Chapman would love to talk to you, so give her a call at 772-2156.

The feeling of being a part of this amazing group is the real reward for the many volunteers and staff who brighten the lives of others. For information call 778-8249 or visit the website. See how you or your group can donate items on their wish list, from bug-repellant to apples for the horses. Saddle up!