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Equestrian Center Moves Forward
The Venture Equestrian Center took a big step forward on July 6, as crews began to clear trees in preparation for the construction of the much-anticipated indoor riding facility. The 17,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility will allow this very popular program to expand to offer therapeutic riding year round.
Equestrian and Venture Select Program Director Ken Freson conceived the project, which is being underwritten by the Venture Foundation through private donations and by a 2008 grant from State Senator Tom Morahan. “The benefits of therapeutic riding are extraordinary,” said Freson who has been the man behind this program for more than 10 years. “We have so many people who want to ride and such a great group of volunteers. The only thing holding us back has been our reliance on weather,” he said.
Therapeutic Riding Instructor Marla Paige agrees. “We’re not just working with Venture people, we have adults and children from other agencies, disabled and non-disabled riders, it’s a community of people who love horses and riding that’s driving this program,” she said.
The Venture Foundation began their capital campaign to build the center in 2007 which will be located adjacent to the Camp Venture Summer Camp.
“We gotten a great deal of interest and received some wonderful contributions,” said Venture Foundation Executive Director Barbara Reece. “But with the economic downturn and state of our economy it’s become a lot harder to realize a capital project like this,” she said.
The project, which began as a cover over the existing outdoor riding arena, evolved into a state-of-the-art therapeutic riding center. Project Manager and Agency COO George Hoehmann explains, ” The project grew with the interest from the community,” Hoehmann said. “More and more people and groups approached us as we started the capital campaign to the point where our original plan just didn’t make sense.”
Though the project is underway, there is still much to be done and many decisions to be made. The bad economy and a tight budget have put pressure on the agency to scale back the project. Nonetheless, Hoehmann, Reece and especially Camp Venture President John Murphy are pressing forward with the intent of making the new center the best that it can be.