A Word About G.R.A.C.E.
Located near Owen Sound, Ontario, G.R.A.C.E. is a specialized equestrian center for individuals of all ages with physical, mental or emotional challenges. It is a place of healing, one where compassion, patience and a resolve to make life better for others are the values that guide us.
Our mission is accomplished thanks to the kindness and dedication of some extraordinary individuals: our professional instructors, trained volunteers and, of course, our beloved horses, caring creatures all, that seem to feel what we feel.
My commitment to G.R.A.C.E. as President of the organization finds its roots in my own family story, a “horse family”, where horseback riding quickly became second nature to me from childhood on.
Such an experience enabled me to realize first-hand the deeper meaning of discovering over time these fascinating animals. So it’s no surprise that my own children, Aislyn and Kylan were literally raised on the back of a horse.
When Aislyn and Kylan became old enough, they started volunteering for G.R.A.C.E. too. Before long, my husband Todd rounded out the mix.
As a family united in a common purpose, we developed wonderful friendships with our riders, instructors and volunteers which inspired us in so many ways and changed our lives profoundly. Week after week, that quality time spent together opened our eyes to the difference G.R.A.C.E. makes in our community for people who really need what we offer.
What we saw and heard were children unable to walk now giggling as they trotted about on “their” horse. Never had they moved so fast. What we witnessed were young adults unable to speak now using their body as a means to ask a horse to go where they wanted. People suffering from serious mental or physical conditions were suddenly leaving from a session at G.R.A.C.E. with smiles on their faces and returning with the expectation of more fun to be had.
Can there be any greater reward than to help bring light where there is darkness in others’ lives, I wonder. Or to have tears of discouragement give way to the laughter of hope when a person’s health is improved through an experience as simple, yet as deep, as a connection with a caring horse?
G.R.A.C.E. is about horse power at its best. Please join us in the advancement of our mission. We stand to be enriched by your participation. Thank you for supporting us.
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!"