It has always been my goal to raise my children with morals and values. I wanted them to be good people who use their skills to help others and make a difference in their community. If I was going to raise children I was going to “do it right”.
Our family was already a horse family, I had 30 years of experience with horses, and with our children raised “on the back of a horse” it made sense that when they became old enough they too would volunteer with G.R.A.C.E..
A firm believer in setting an example, I offered my time with G.R.A.C.E. and seven years ago mother-daughter time included helping with G.R.A.C.E. lessons one night a week.
Two years later my son reached an age he too could join in and before long my husband rounded out the mix.
We developed relationships with the riders, the other volunteers and the instructors which became inspiring, uplifting and changed our lives. Those few hours each week opened our eyes to the differences G.R.A.C.E. made in our community and for children that really needed it.
We saw children who could not walk, giggle trotting on a horse, and who had never moved so fast. We saw children who could not speak, use their body with joy to communicate to ask a horse to do what they needed. We saw children who had really bad days, who often arrived in tears and in sour moods, leave with smiles on their faces.
My family became involved with G.R.A.C.E. so that we could make a difference and what happened was a difference was made in our lives.
We learned our life struggles were nothing compared to what so many children were dealing with.
We learned that a small act of kindness could make a huge difference in someone’s life and we learned in doing so it came back tenfold. We are reminded weekly of the joy and happiness a connection with a horse can bring and that feeling connected changes everything.
President of G.R.A.C.E.
As a Family Physician I have learned that although a patient may be diagnosed with limiting and difficult conditions, more important than the condition in determining its impact is the patient’s ability to maximize potential, embrace opportunities and enjoy life. G.R.A.C.E. can play an important role in enhancing quality of life for its participants. There is no limit to the physical benefits – increased flexibility, strengthened muscles, improved balance and co-ordination. Along with these are psychological and social benefits from the socialization, the encouragement and sense of achievement from experiencing success and perhaps above all, a chance to form a special bond with one of the exceptional horses. I fully support and endorse this wonderful program! - Dr. Bruce Stanners
As a parent of a child riding at G.R.A.C.E.. I have witnessed over the past several years, an improvement in our son’s sense of balance and perseverance with a task. Therapeutic riding has enabled him to feel comfortable with taking risks. He enjoys not only interacting with the horse but also with the volunteer leader and side walkers, not to mention the other riders. This experience has created meaningful relationships that can be everlasting at the same time providing various degrees of therapy- all in one program. He experiences a sense of freedom that he would not necessarily have in everyday living and that feeling can put a smile on his face that come from deep inside. – Aunalea Cruickshank
"My son has been blessed to work with Sandra Hall as his physiotherapist for the last 3 years. Sandra has the most amazing expertise, care, humour and resourcefulness and works with some of the most extraordinary kids in the Grey/Bruce region. She truly knows how to engage and empower kids who have faced enormous challenges in their lives. My son is a brave young boy with a condition known as Arthrogryposis that affects him in his hips, legs, knees and ankles. He requires the support of a wheelchair and orthotics for mobility. We are working towards goals that will allow him to one day stand and walk with supports. It is a constant journey of dedication, strength and perseverance.
For the last year, the staff at G.R.A.C.E. Riding Centre was gracious enough to problem-solve around the COVID restrictions and figure out a way that kids like my son could continue their critical therapies, such as hippotherapy. We could not be more grateful! For an eager, determined, resilient kid like mine, it was agonizing to watch his years of physical progress decline as therapeutic interventions were denied during COVID lockdowns. So much of his world was suddenly closed off from him and it was a physical setback as well as mental and emotional. Hippotherapy at G.R.A.C.E. literally became his saving grace.
To watch his face light up as he mounts Misty or Abby, to see him engage so enthusiastically with the knowledgeable and compassionate staff, to witness his confidence flourish, his physical stamina, flexibility and strength build each week, to see him smile and laugh and feel a sense of empowerment looking down - instead of always up - at the world, to see him master new challenges each week as his independence thrives is worth every mile, every dollar, every sacrifice we have to make to get him to those sessions. G.R.A.C.E. Riding Centre is a healing gem in Grey County. We are so grateful to be benefactors of their amazing work!"