Reins to Recovery may have found its “forever home.”

Calli Johnson, executive director of the therapeutic horseback riding center in Seymour, initially thought she would have to find a temporary location after learning the lease with Vickey and Jeff Oliphant of VJ Farms expires June 30. Meanwhile, a capital building campaign for a permanent facility began.

But with money raised so far and continued growth of the center’s programs, Johnson and her volunteer board decided to go forward with their “forever home” and found property for sale at 10861 U.S. 31 North, just north of Reddington. The 12-acre site is 2½ miles from the current facility at 1660 N. County Road 1000W.

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Johnson recently received a favorable recommendation from the Jackson County Plan Commission for a business relocation and a special exception for placing a riding stable on property zoned A1 agricultural.

That recommendation moves on to the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals, which will make the final decision during its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. May 10 in the planning and zoning office at 202 E. Walnut St., Brownstown.

Johnson said she had been eyeing the property along U.S. 31.

“It was a tough decision because financially, this is huge for Reins,” she said. “We all discussed it, and we thought this was going to be the best route long term. If we are in a position where we’re ready to grow, we need to grow, we need to expand our facilities, if we’re going to do that, why not do it on our ‘forever home’ so that Reins can impact the community long after I’m not the director any longer. It just made sense.”

Reins to Recovery is a 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. It was founded in 2008 in Hayden and moved to Seymour in late 2011.

The center purchased the U.S. 31 property from Elinor and Kenneth Shadley. The capital building campaign, with a goal of $300,000, will continue to support the facility’s growth.

Once the purchase offer was accepted, Johnson said it was a surreal moment, but she realized there’s a lot of work ahead in terms of getting the new site developed so they can move 11 horses and their equipment.

“It’s just an up-and-down race right now, but we’ve got our support system,” she said. “Our board of directors and staff and volunteers have been awesome throughout it all. ‘No’ isn’t in our vocabulary these days. For the sake of the clients and the community and to know what we can offer them and how we’re helping them, it’s got to be a ‘Yes,’ it’s got to be a ‘Hey, we’re going to make it.’”

The 12-acre property features a house, a garage, a 35-foot-by-40-foot pole barn and a 56-by-80 foot barn.

If the board of zoning appeals approves Reins to Recovery’s request, Johnson said she will have a crew help tear down the larger barn and hopes for community support to help build a new one soon.

The pole barn will have to be cleaned up, and stalls will have to be constructed. Johnson said she would like to someday enclose it and make it temperature-controlled to store equipment.

Within the next three to five years, the plans are to build a 100-by-80 arena on the site so staff members and volunteers can facilitate lessons in two barns at the same time.

The house will be used for office space and restrooms. It contains three bedrooms, two living room areas and a large kitchen and is in great condition, Johnson said. The only work required will be making the restrooms handicap accessible.

Once two arenas are on the property, Johnson said a common area between them will have restrooms, a small kitchenette, a private viewing room for closed sessions and an open viewing room to see in both barns.

In Reins to Recovery’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.

Johnson said the facility averages about 50 to 60 clients and 20 to 30 volunteers on a weekly basis.

“We are hoping that once we are able to expand the facility to be able to double, maybe even triple, those numbers,” she said.

In 2015, Reins to Recovery added programs and also saw growth in its established programs.

Johnson said she will continue to seek funding to keep lessons going at the facility.

“We don’t stop right now,” she said, smiling. “We’re always working on grants, making community connections to help us with financial assistance to keep programs going. We’re at our busiest time ever. We’re booked solid for all of our lessons. Our waiting lists keep continuing to grow, which is great. We’re not missing a beat.”

About 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 center hopes to move into a permanent facility at 10861 N. U.S. 31 north of Reddington.

Financial contributions to support future growth and volunteers to help with the building campaign and other committees are being sought.

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.

At a glance

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 center hopes to move into a permanent facility at 10861 N. U.S. 31 north of Reddington.

Financial contributions to support future growth and volunteers to help with the building campaign and other committees are being sought.

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.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.