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Thank you to the Law Offices of J Charles Bunk for making this story possible to share.
It’s not just another Fiesta Medal. Proceeds will benefit Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch: help us to care for the horses that help kids!
Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch’s mission of equine rescue and therapy is one North Park Subaru at Dominion is proud to support. Open T.R.A.I.L. (which stands for Therapeutic Riding Actively Improving Lives) currently serves 60 riders weekly, with 12 horses. Their horses help special needs children in our area by engaging their sensorimotor and neuromotor systems to create functional change and confidence.
Last fall, when North Park Subaru at Dominion was searching for a “Hometown Charity” to add to its “Share the Love” campaign, customers who lease or buy a Subaru were allowed to select one of four charities to which the car dealership would donate $250 on their behalf.
Stephen Markham, General Manager at North Park Subaru at Dominion, providentially heard of Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch, a therapeutic riding facility and scheduled a personal visit with Kate Vasquez, founder, executive director and instructor. He was so impressed with her work, and that of the other three instructors and physical therapists, he selected Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch as the dealership’s local beneficiary. The employees at North Park Subaru at Dominion passionately promoted Open T.R.A.I.L. to their customers – which led to a donation of $42,000 for the ranch.
“It is the biggest donation we have ever received, and the first donation from a company,” Kate said. “We were speechless a group would believe in us so much to do that for us and our riders.”
And the relationship between the ministry and the dealership continues. North Park Subaru at Dominion employee group invest “sweat equity” on Open T.R.A.I.L. workdays, clearing additional trails on the 100-plus acre land at 28710 Boerne Stage Road, just 10 minutes from La Cantera.
“It is incredible to see them, not just at their dealership vouching for us, but on their off-time coming out. They are completely invested in our riders and with our rescue horses,” Kate added.
Funds from North Park Subaru at Dominion have built a new barn with additional equine stalls. Most of the ranch’s horses are rescued from an abusive or neglectful situation or were headed to the slaughterhouse. These rehabilitated horses, “give so much and behave differently once they realize they are no longer in danger,” Kate said, and are the perfect complement to her riders, many of whom have come from similar situations or who have behavioral or psychological problems.
“The horses have their own stories we can share with the kids,” she added, which is especially helpful for those in Equine Assisted Learning Therapy. A horse is a mirror image, she explained, which helps participants recognize and give voice to their emotions. The horse can advocate how the participant is feeling.
“If they are angry, the horse will walk away; if they are anxious, the horse will show that emotion, too,” she said. “A lot (of participants) are foster kids or those who have had trauma, autism spectrum, or a learning disability that almost makes them unable to relate to others. They can learn how to properly socialize utilizing the horse.”
Another equine therapy offered by Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch is the Therapeutic Riding Program for ambulatory riders with physical, emotional or cognitive special needs. The goal is for graduates to be able to ride unassisted anywhere safely.
Hippotherapy is specialized physical therapy treatment on horseback. Participants may not be able to walk, but because the movement of the horse mimics walking, muscles are strengthened and range of motion increased, which can lead to an ability to take purposeful steps versus being in a wheelchair.
“Really incredible stuff goes on you don’t get without the horse – they are our number one partner,” Kate said.
Lastly, she teaches vaulting, which is basically gymnastics on a horse. The small class promotes social skills, confidence and team building.
Instructors and therapies are certified by PATH, an international accrediting agency.
The ranch has been open since 2012, the year Churchill High School alum Vasquez graduated from college with a degree in psychology and special education. She crafted her degree always mindful of her goal to open a therapeutic riding facility.
Open T.R.A.I.L. Ranch relies on volunteers to provide personal interaction and support for each rider and horse. Students as young as 14 can be trained to participate in a variety of meaningful roles. Find Kate at www.opentrailranch.org for more information.
At North Park Subaru at Dominion we believe in Kate’s vision and are appreciative for how she’s meeting the needs of these special kids. These kids get the benefit of therapy and the horses find a new purpose in their lives. There are so many ways this ranch can help so many more kids, we urge you to look into Kate’s vision. We think you’ll fall in love with the idea of helping more. Visit them at www.opentrailranch.com or give them a call at (210) 367-8248.