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.
A Medical Point of View
"As a family physician practicing in Owen Sound, I have learned that, although a patient may be diagnosed with difficult or even painful limiting conditions, there are no limits to the physical benefits of increased flexibility, strengthened muscles, improved balance and better co-ordination that therapeutic programs like those offered at the G.R.A.C.E. Equestrian Center can provide.
Along with these physical benefits for riders are psychological ones, derived from the socialization, encouragement and sense of achievement at experiencing successes, big and small. All thanks to the special bonds created with G.R.A.C.E.’s exceptional horses and personal friendships with the Center’s many kind, caring and experienced volunteers.
G.R.A.C.E. plays an important role in enhancing quality of life for its participants. And this is why I fully support and endorse their wonderful programs."
Dr. Bruce Stanners , M.D.
Words of Gratitude
As a parent of a child riding at G.R.A.C.E.. I have witnessed over the past several years a distinct improvement in our son’s sense of balance and perseverance with a task. Therapeutic riding has enabled him to feel more comfortable with taking risks. He enjoys not only interacting with the horse, but also with the volunteer leader and side walkers, not to mention meeting the other riders.
This experience has created for him new and meaningful relationships that can be everlasting while at the same time providing him with various degrees of much needed therapy. As a result, he experiences a sense of freedom that he would not necessarily have in every day living. That feeling always puts a smile on his face, which comes from deep inside.
Thank you so much to all those who make this healing experience possible for my son, including the benefactors who support G.R.A.C.E. financially.
G.R.A.C.E. Board Member and parent of a child with Cerebral Palsy
A Inspiring Story
My son is a brave young boy with a condition known as arthrogryposis that impairs him in his hips, legs, knees and ankles. He requires the support of a wheelchair and orthotics for mobility.
For the last three years, he has been blessed to work with Sandra Hall who runs G.R.A.C.E.’s hippotherapy program as his physiotherapist. Sandra has the most amazing expertise and shows so much care, humour and resourcefulness as she works with some truly extraordinary children in the Grey-Bruce Region. She really knows how to engage and empower kids who face enormous, daily challenges in their lives.
My son’s face lights up as he mounts Misty or Abby, two of G.R.A.C.E.’s great horses. Or as he engages so enthusiastically with the knowledgeable and compassionate staff there. We witness his flexibility, strength and stamina increasing as he masters new physical challenges week by week. With every session, his confidence in himself and sense of independence grow in ways that are noticeable. To see him smile and laugh during and after each session is our greatest reward.
During this past year of the pandemic 2020-2021, the staff at G.R.A.C.E. was thoughtful enough to problem-solve around the COVID restrictions and figure out how kids like my son could continue their critical therapy. We cannot be more grateful for that extra special effort.
And so we are working towards goals that will enable our boy one day to stand and walk with supports. Ours is a daily journey of love, dedication and perseverance. G.R.A.C.E. has literally become his, and our family’s, “saving grace”.
A Grateful Parent