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Fall Term Meetings!

Over the course of the past two weeks, and continuing through this current week, the Red Barn invited both parents and volunteers to meet with instructors to discuss goals and to plan for the upcoming Fall term. Understandably, not every parent was able to attend in person, so several of these planning sessions were held via phone conference. Either way, the meetings aided our instructors in preparing lesson plans for the Fall and helped our volunteers better understand the needs of their students.

For the parents who could make it out to the Barn, we offered ground lessons for their children. Some students spent time grooming and painting our horses, others played with the small animals, and one pair even staged a dramatic sword fight using inflatable swords and pool noodles. Everyone appeared to have a blast, including our staff.

It is less than a week away from the term’s official start. Anticipation is at an all-time high here at the Barn. We cannot wait to share laughter and learning with each and every one of our amazing students. We’ll see you all out here starting on August 28th. Here’s hoping this will be the best Fall term yet!

-Connor

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Summer 2017 Wrap-up

The 2017 Summer term is officially in the books! Even with the flooding, heat, and humidity, we had a fun and busy term.

While Spring and Fall terms tend be heavy on individual riding lessons, Winter and Summer terms focus more on group riding and unmounted lessons. A handful of our students, those who we believe would lose significant progress during the 3 month layoff, still had individual riding lessons, but that load was significantly lighter overall. Trying to teach 15+ separate riding lessons per day in the Summer heat would be brutal for everyone involved, especially our horses.

In order to conserve human and horsepower, the Barn offered four distinct group riding lessons this Summer. For these groups, we partnered our students by similar age, from preschoolers to high school students. The younger groups had different themes each week, such as the wild West or a Hawaiian luau, while the oldest group worked on an art project for the ground portion of their lessons.

The Barn also hosted several unmounted camps. A group from JBS visited us Monday mornings during term. We had a blast grooming horses, visiting the small animals, and fishing together. Every Thursday morning, we hosted a job-skills training camp for several of our teenage students. Each student had their own consistent task to complete each and every week, which ranged from deep-grooming to cleaning feed and water buckets. They also had a variable task that would change from week to week and included chores like mucking stalls or doing yard work. Their instructor, Ellen, introduced them to different soft skills such as courtesy, punctuality, and initiation. Other unmounted groups included Social Skills and JAYC, both of which we typically offer year-round.

In addition to all these weekly groups, we had several visits from our friends at Mitchell’s Place, Urban Kids, Grace House, Jessie’s Place, and the Amelia Center. In June, both our Student Banquet and the third annual Take the Reins Run took place. Needless to say, the Barn was a very busy place this Summer!

It is important to note that we could not have served so many kids without the help of an amazing crew of Summer interns. All of our interns were great not only at assisting in lessons and camps, but also at stepping in and completing the long list of daily and weekly chores that come with operating a barn. It’s not easy mucking stalls when you are sweat-soaked and exhausted after an 8-hour day, but the interns never once complained. Thank you interns all for your hard work and dedication this past Summer, we appreciate each and every one of you!

This was possibly our most successful Summer yet. We’re thrilled we got to share it with all of our wonderful students, parents, volunteers, and interns. The Barn is already gearing up for the Fall term, and everyone here is doing our best to ensure this Fall will be just as fun and successful as the Summer.

-Connor

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National Purple Heart Day

Today, August 7, is National Purple Heart Day. The day commemorates the creation of the oldest American military decoration for military merit, the Purple Heart, and honors the men and women who are of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Created by General George Washington in 1782 to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action”, the decoration was a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk bound with a thin edge of silver and the word “Merit” embroidered in silver across the face. The modern Purple Heart dates back to World War I, and is awarded to any United States military personnel who are wounded or killed in service.

Here at The Red Barn, we are proud to offer the Take the Reins program to our veterans.   Take the Reins provides therapeutic activities that assist in the treatment of PTSD and other disabilities for active and inactive military personnel and their families.

We have several individual veterans, as well as family members of veterans, who are weekly students during the Fall and Spring terms. A group of veterans with the Lakeshore Foundation visits the Barn on a regular basis. In fact, they have a date at the Barn later this month, which we are very excited about! Earlier this Summer, we held the third annual Take the Reins Run in honor of Corporal Clay Anthony Ward. The Run helps the Barn raise funds for the Take the Reins program.

Thank you to all of our veterans for bravely serving our country. Your service and sacrifice enables the Barn to freely assist all of our wonderful students.

-Connor