Over 2019 and during all of our flood evacuations, the Ride On St. Louis herd has been fortunate to find sanctuary on a privately owned thoroughbred breeding and training facility in Millstadt, Illinois. The facility is owned and operated by Dr. Terry Morgan, DVM and his wife Sharon Morgan who have been kind enough to provide us refuge during all of our flood evacuations. The 60 head farm boasts private broodmare barn with foaling stalls, a separate weanling barn, and separate yearling/training barn, practice track, and segregated paddocks and pastures equip for managing breeding stallions, broodmares with/out foals at their sides, weanling, yearlings and those training.
The Ride On St. Louis accommodations include a portion of the broodmare barn and a beautiful five acre pasture with rolling hills. Dr. Morgan designed the facility to be perfectly suited for the breeding, raising and training of thoroughbred horses for the track, so it offers little for the activities required for a very different field --equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT).
Race horses foaling and competing on a track have no need for a riding arena, which is a main component of an EAAT facility. Clients with special needs, fragile bodies and those who are seeking to develop their independent riding skills benefit greatly from the controlled environment that an arena (indoor or outdoor) offers. Elements conducive to EAAT in the arena may include: level, dust free footing that is easy on the horse's joints (since they often carry the unbalanced weight of clients), forgiving on delicate respiratory systems, and easier for the clients to balance than hills or uneven natural terrain; safety railing that significantly decreases the risk of injury from falling or bumping into the rails; well lit and/or climate controlled space for year round activity; and special mounting equipment and areas for persons needing assistance to mount or utilizing mobility devices (wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, strollers, etc.). Additionally, the isle-ways and stall-rows you find on most thoroughbred farms are set up for the traffic of horses coming and going from boxes only. At the EAAT center, isle-ways are large and accommodating for people of all needs and often offer designated areas for tying the horse and for activities that include instruction, grooming, and tacking with the assistance of an instructor. One last major difference in facilities concerns ADA accessibility (parking, walk-ways, bathrooms, waiting room, etc.). Plans for our future Forever Home take careful consideration in design and features that are essential for an efficient, safe and sustaining EAAT center.
Ride On St. Louis is pleased to have developed the Barn Buddies program to continue serving some unmounted clients during our relocation, despite the given challenges. And our horses certainly appreciate the beautiful pastures and hills for their own physical and psychological needs, as you can tell from the picture of Ghost, above! We continue to work diligently and thoroughly on our Forever Home and will have more to share in our year-end physical newsletter. Thank you to Dr. Morgan, Sharon, Eddie, Leo and John for for making us feel like family and accommodating our herd during this transitional period, and thank you to all the staff and volunteer caretakers who continue to travel to meet our horses' daily needs.