OCEANSIDE — The 7th annual Western Hoedown brought together horses, cowboys and country fun to raise money for Ivey Ranch equestrian therapy programs and preschool programs Sept. 10. Riding demonstrations, a VIP dinner, fundraising raffle and kids game area all shared a western theme.
Kids enjoyed horse drawn wagon rides, a game of horseshoes, face painting, arts and crafts, and feeding carrots to horses.
“The main goal is to raise money for our programs and amp up our equestrian programs,” said Kelsey Scrupps, program coordinator.
Equestrian therapy programs at the ranch help 200 disabled youth and military veterans a week.
Monies raised last year helped fund a new multipurpose room that will be used to train and certify therapy instructors. This new addition to Ivey Ranch enables it to become an accredited center.
The previous year funds went towards building a new barn that provides space for additional horses. Four large horses were acquired to use in the Horses for Heroes veterans program. All horses are donated to the nonprofit. Staff screens available horses and finds the best fit for its programs.
Ivey Ranch now boasts two barns, 16 horses, two arenas, a cantering track and jumping area for special needs riders. The facilities allow those with special needs to push their limits.
“They may not be able to do some things, but they can do a lot of other things,” said Tonya Danielly, Ivey Ranch director.
Volunteers are a big part of the Ivey Ranch team. Over 400 volunteers help out with programs that benefit children with autism, cerebral palsy, development delay, Down syndrome and mental disabilities.
Ivey Ranch volunteers range in age from 9-years-old to adults. “We have jobs for everyone,” volunteer Riley Insko said.
Hunter Conroy, of Encinitas, has been a volunteer for three years. She helps with the equestrian therapy program every Saturday.
“She would rather do this than anything else,” Hunter’s dad Tim Conroy said.
The fundraising goal this year is to raise $45,000. Funds will be put towards building a new day care facility that serves special needs and able body children.
Presently the school serves 40 to 45 children. When the new facility is built, 90 to 100 children can be served.