Posted on Leave a comment

Springing Forward

Twelve weeks ago, our instructors were meeting with parents and volunteers to develop goals for our students. Now, as the final few days of the 2017 Spring term trickle by, we can reflect on all the memories made – the fun times and the lessons learned – over the past 3 months. Though it was a bit hectic at times due to stormy weather, school breaks, and other miscellaneous obstacles, we managed to overcome all those to have an awesome term.

An average Spring week could expect to see up to 100 hours of lessons! For Saddle Up, our weekly individual riding lesson program,  we had 72 hours of lessons scheduled per week. For unmounted group and individual lessons, which are under our Horse Play program, we had up to 22.5 hours of lessons scheduled per week. And our Take the Reins program for veterans and their families racked up 4.5 hours of lessons each week. In between those 100 hours, we held meetings, planned for lessons, wrote grant applications, adjusted ever-changing schedules, mucked stalls, and completed the countless other chores that go into the daily upkeep of a barn full of horses, bunnies, goats, and cats.

Though the Spring term ends this Sunday, we’re already gearing up for Summer. The bulk of Summer camps and lessons start June 12, so next week should be lighter and allow for time to iron out all the fine details for the Summer. Of course, any Summertime fine-tuning will come after we’ve completed all the preparation needed for the Take the Reins run, which will be held at Veteran’s Park in Hoover on Saturday, June 10th.

It’ll be tough to follow up such a great Spring, but we’re excited to dive on in to Summer with all the fun camps we have planned. Thank you all for being a part of the Red Barn family this past term, and we look forward to seeing you all back out here this Summer!


Posted on Leave a comment

Summer Camps

With Summer camps being right around the corner, I wanted to share some information about each camp for all curious parents and volunteers. Sign-ups are available to the public, but open slots are going very quickly. You can see the remaining availability, dates, cost, and other information here.

Job Skills Training: Students with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional disabilities learn transferable job skills while completing work-related tasks at the barn. 

Older Kids Group Riding Lesson: 8-week camp with group riding lessons and other fun activities.

Handwriting with Horses: 8-week camp that focuses on building a foundation of handwriting through drawing and teaching general sensorimotor skills, using horses and natural environment for encouragement. Students should be able to stay on task for 5-8 minutes. Parent involvement expected.

Social Skills: 8-week camp in which students learn the expectations of different social situations and practice how to respond appropriately.

Younger Kids Group Riding Lesson: A group riding lesson with other fun activities.

Pony Pals Group Riding Lesson: A group riding lesson with other fun activities.

Build It, Grow It: Students will learn basic construction and craftsmanship, gardening, and facility maintenance skills required to keep the barn running. Students should be able to walk over uneven terrain, grasp hammers and other tools, and be able to safely use tools.

Middle School Kids Group Riding Lesson: A group riding lesson with other fun activities.

Communicating with Horses: Students will learn about communication between horses and humans through a series of horse activities such as observing, grooming, and leading.

If you have any questions about any of the camps or want to learn more information, please email Grace (


Posted on Leave a comment

Take the Reins 2K17

Well folks, the 3rd Annual Take the Reins Run is already right around the corner. So, I figured I would give y’all a crash course on all the information needed to either volunteer or participate in the run!

The run will begin at 8 AM on June 10th, a Saturday. Make sure you arrive a little early to register or to sign-in if you’re preregistered. The location will be Veterans Park in Hoover. Registration costs $35 and includes a t-shirt. Age-group winners will also receive a ribbon. You can preregister here.

Take the Reins is a memorial run for Cpl. Anthony Clay Ward. The race is designed to celebrate our veterans and raise money for The Red Barn’s programs that support them. The Red Barn’s “Take the Reins” program provides therapeutic activities that assist in the treatment of PTSD and other disabilities for active and inactive military personnel and their families. If you’d like to learn more information about the run, feel free to check out the official Take the Reins website here.

Our Take the Reins Run has been a big success the past two years, and we’re all working our hardest to ensure this year is no different. We hope to see you all there next month!


Posted on Leave a comment

Spotlight: Black Flight

Our horses are the engine that power the Barn. Simply put, we wouldn’t be an organization without our amazing herd. So far in the one year history of blog, we have spotlighted bunnies, cats, camps, and staff teams. Somehow, we have yet to do a feature on any of our horses. Today that changes, as we turn the spotlight on the matriarch of our herd: Black Flight!

Black Flight, a 26-year old Thoroughbred/Hanoverian cross, has been at the Red Barn longer than any other horse in our herd. She first arrived way back in 2011, which is even before the Red Barn officially became a non-profit in February 2012.

Before coming to the Barn, Black Flight (then known by her show name “Pre-Flight of Fancy”) competed in Level II Dressage with her previous owner, Pamela Dawson. Black Flight is also the only mother in our herd, as she gave birth to a filly named Shamanic Dreams in 2007. Unfortunately, an injury prevented Black Flight from continuing her dressage career. But Pamela Dawson understood how great a horse Black Flight is, and was kind enough to share her with us.

Black Flight has touched hundreds of lives over the past five years. She is a calm, patient teacher who loves to be around children. She particularly loves large groups, and is our go-to option whenever we need a horse who will sit still and allow dozens of little hands to rub all over them. She also had the honor of participating in the 2014 Veteran’s Day parade through downtown Birmingham. It takes a very special horse to endure all the sights and sounds that come with parade!

Black Flight’s excellence can be expected given her ancestry. Her sixth great-grandfather was Man o’ War, arguably the greatest racehorse of all time. Her fifth great-grandfather was War Admiral, another great racehorse who won the Triple Crown in 1937. If there were some sort of awards for therapy horses, Black Flight surely would have won them all!

Thank you to Pamela Dawson for sharing your sweet, gifted horse with the Red Barn. Black Flight impacts each and every student and staff she works with in the best possible way.