As Reins to Recovery begins its eighth year, the staff, clients and volunteers learned property owners have decided to utilize the facility for personal use.
The lease with Vickey and Jeff Oliphant of VJ Farms expires June 30.
Choosing not to give up on the therapeutic horseback riding center that has grown to serve more than 120 clients, executive director Calli Johnson and her volunteer board of directors are working to find a new home for the facility.
Story continues below gallery
While the news was difficult to accept at first, Johnson said she chose to maintain a positive outlook. That has resonated with the staff, volunteers and clients.
“We have a barn family, and we’ve formed that camaraderie out of the barn. It’s almost like they haven’t skipped a beat,” Johnson said.
“All of us know how important Reins is to the community, and we know how important it is to our clients, and there’s no way that we’re going to just call it quits,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my heart and in my mind that there’s a bright future ahead, and that’s what we want everyone to just kind of focus on right now.”
Johnson said it has eased her mind to know that people have stepped up and asked what they can do to help.
“It really was kind of a sense of relief for me knowing that, ‘Hey, you’re not alone in this as a director. Your board is ready to go at it as you are, and now, so are your volunteers and your clients,’” she said.
“We’ve been through a lot of windy curves on our journey, but we’ve got a lot of faith in this organization. God has gotten us through a lot of different things, so we will be fine.”
The first step for Reins to Recovery’s board of directors and staff is to address the immediate need for a suitable facility to lease. The nonprofit organization is looking for property with at least 12 acres and a barn to lease or purchase in the Seymour area.
Reins to Recovery will have to move its 11 horses, equipment and supplies.
“Our No. 1 goal is we want to make sure that our clients in our programs kind of continue with us through this move in a way that’s not going to affect them,” Johnson said. “We want to just keep that routine going as much as possible, keep that transition smooth.”
Johnson said she has been fortunate in the past to find “move-in ready” buildings to lease. Reins to Recovery started in Hayden in 2008 and moved to its Seymour location in late 2011.
The only additions Johnson had to make at the current facility were a waiting room, a viewing area and office space.
“We’ve always leased, and we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had individuals that have stepped up when we needed them,” Johnson said. “Our time with VJ Farms allowed us to meet our needs for the past five years, so it allowed us to expand our programs, enhance our services and do what we needed to do in that time frame, and we’re grateful for that.”
The second step is to continue developing a capital building campaign for a “forever home.” Johnson said that started since the organization has outgrown its facility, and she, the board and a committee of volunteers and business leaders are working on the initiative.
In the organization’s first year, it had 10 riders, six horses and volunteers who began training.
Now, there are more than 120 riders from several surrounding counties, 11 horses, six staff members, six volunteer board members and more than 30 people who volunteer on a weekly basis.
In 2015, Reins to Recovery added programs and also saw growth in its established programs, including therapeutic riding, equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-assisted learning and recreational lessons for children and adults with disabilities, victims of violence and abuse and at-risk youth.
“Ideally, it would be great to be able to move forward and find a location with a little more property, possibly a couple of different barns that we could utilize so that we could run some of these programs at the same time,” Johnson said.
The third and final step is to secure and purchase an appropriate site or an existing structure for the forever home.
Kristye Lewis, who leads Reins to Recovery’s fundraising efforts, started an online account on youcaring.com to raise money toward a down payment for a permanent facility.
“Now more than ever, we need the community to help us continue to change lives one ride at a time,” Lewis said. “Many people in the community — riders and volunteers — are benefiting from this nonprofit organization.”
That includes her daughter, Kirstyn, who has been a rider at Reins to Recovery since it opened in 2008.
“Reins to Recovery has been beneficial to Kirstyn in so many ways,” Lewis said.
“Therapeutic horseback riding has helped her with her speech, posture, socialization skills, muscle strength and balance. It has helped her with following one- and two-step directions and is a great physical activity for her. And above all, she loves it.”
When she first heard Reins to Recovery’s lease wasn’t going to be renewed, Lewis said she was a little shocked.
But she has seen the organization grow and make an impact, and she wants that to continue.
“Reins has been growing by leaps and bounds and provides not only therapeutic horseback riding but also equine-assisted psychotherapy and equine-assisted learning,” Lewis said.
“I feel in my heart that everything is going to work out for Reins to Recovery.”
Reins to Recovery Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic riding, equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-assisted learning and recreational lessons to children and adults with disabilities, victims of violence and abuse and at-risk youth.
On June 30, the lease expires for the facility at 1660 N. County Road 1000W, Seymour.
The organization is looking for someone who might have arena space to lease for the next few years until money is raised for a permanent facility.
Director Calli Johnson is seeking financial contributions to support future growth and also volunteers to help with the building campaign and other committees.
Donations may be made online at youcaring.com and typing “Reins to Recovery” in the search box.
For information, call 812-350-4864, visit reinstorecovery.org or find the organization on Facebook.
Reins to Recovery’s next fundraiser is the third annual Reins Throwdown cornhole tournament.
It’s set to begin at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 27 at Southwest Bartholomew Volunteer Fire Department and Community Center, 8500 S. State Road 58, Columbus. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. for warmups.
Cost is $50 for a two-man team. Call 812-350-4864 to sign up. Space is limited.
Hot dogs, coney dogs, chips, cookies and beverages will be available for purchase. Prizes will be award to the top three teams.
Other fundraisers include a golf outing in June and a live auction and dinner in August. Information about those events will be released at a later date.