This year’s ‘Freedom Ride’ cancelled

This past weekend would have marked the 11th-annual “Freedom Ride” at Joyce Young’s Trail’s End Riding Stables north of Devlin.
But due to some discrepancies with the business licences Fort Frances instituted this year, Young decided to cancel the event.
She noted she doesn’t have the money to pay for a licence to hold the fundraiser for the Northern Therapeutic Riding Association (NORTRA).
When contacted, Fort Frances clerk Glenn Treftlin couldn’t confirm whether the “Freedom Ride,” or gathering pledges for this event, should be directly affected by the bylaw and suggested Young call the town again.
“If she could establish to us that she is not a business and this is not for her own personal gain, then we would make a determination at that point,” Treftlin said.
But regardless, Young said it would be too late to hold the “Freedom Ride” this year since the pledge forms normally go out in the spring. She added she perhaps will look into holding the event again next year.
Young noted the “Freedom Ride” has raised several thousands of dollars a year over the past decade for NORTRA, which provides local children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities an opportunity to ride a horse.
The program is therapeutic because the individual gets exercise, as well as the freedom to move safely on the back of a well-trained animal.
“I try to charge $20 a session for insurance,” Young said. “And if they don’t have the money, as long as the ‘Freedom Ride’ pays for the insurance and hay, then I do it for [no cost].”
But Young speculated she might have to terminate the program due to the financial burden. In fact, she’s already closed the doors to the Trail’s End Riding Stables as of Aug. 31.
“For the first three years [of the therapeutic riding program], I did it for nothing and we decided a little bit of money could come in.” she noted.
“We started charging $10 a session, but expenses kept getting worse and worse,” she said of the operation, which began in the early 1980s.
But when the “Freedom Ride” began to provide fundraising dollars, Young was able to manage until now.
“There’s not enough money to help me with the horses and there’s no money coming in anywhere—no grants or anything,” she remarked. “And even some of the children are getting cut back from the government . . . and, of course, horseback riding is the first thing to go.
“So it’s basically coming out of the parents’ pockets.”
Young indicated she once had more than 20 individuals participating in the therapeutic riding program, but she’s down to about four or five whose parents can afford the cost.
“I’m sorry to see it go,” NORTRA volunteer Carol Kliner said about the “Freedom Ride.”
“[Young] needs those funds to keep the horses in shape for these kids,” she stressed.
“It’s devastating,” echoed Young. “It’s been my life work for close to 25 years, but there’s not much I can do about it.
“Maybe it’s time for me to retire,” she chuckled.
But Young noted there’s the possibility of a young woman moving to the area who may took over the operation.
“She could take some of my horses and continue with it,” she explained. “I’ve got my fingers crossed. So then I can lay back a little bit and maybe she can find more funding.
“And I can always help and offer my expertise,” Young added.