‘Freedom Ride’ raises big bucks

The sun was shining, the horses were happy to get out of the stable and run, and the riders were pumped.
All in all, it was a perfect day Saturday for the Northern Ontario Therapeutic Riding Association’s fourth-annual “Freedom Ride” starting at Trail’s End Riding Stable in Devlin.
The 16 riders who took part raised almost $6,000 for NORTRA–about $1,200 more than last year.
Young, who organizes and runs NORTRA, was ecstatic about this year’s event. “I have to thank the riders and those who supported them,” she noted.
“They did fantastic,” she stressed.
Shannon LaRocque gathered the most pledges, raising $1,237 for the cause. For her efforts, she received a full saddle, bridle, and breast pad courtesy of Trail’s End and the Nor-West Animal Clinic here.
Holly McRae was next with $1,135 in pledges while Denise Donaldson raised $800. But all the participants received a prize–whether a gift certificate or otherwise–for their efforts.
One rider, third-year volunteer Amy Spicer, said this year’s edition went much better than last, which was rather cold and windy.
“It was great,” she enthused after her 90-minute ride on the trails. “It was warm but cool back in the bush–a perfect day.
“I think everybody behaved–horse-wise I mean,” she laughed.
Alana Stewart, a first-time participant, also enjoyed herself.
“I’ve only been put here about three times but it’s gonna be fun,” she said before the long trek. “I think it’s for a good cause.
“I think it’s important for kids to be able to do things–like if they can’t walk, they can still ride horses,” she added.
“They can feel, um, ‘normal.’”
Proceeds from the fundraiser go towards hay and feed for Young’s dozen or so horses used to help the disabled ride in the NORTRA program.
The money also help subsidize about 20 therapeutic riders for their sessions, which run every Wednesday during the summer.
Meanwhile, Young is still inviting anyone aged 14 or older interested in volunteering with the program to come out and lend a hand each week.