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SMART has a new home!
It's official!! SMART has a permanent home---at last!! Many of you know that our Board and SMART Team have been working tirelessly for many years to make it possible for us to purchase a permanent home for SMART. Our dream of having our very own place has, at last, become a reality!!!
This is a huge accomplishment for us--and it couldn't have happened if it weren't for the generous support and assistance of Bruce Conley and his team at The Second Chance Foundation. We thank them for caring about our program and believing in us!!
We also owe this great feat to our Board members who have not only been knocking on doors and making those "asks" to get the financial support for this venture---but have also stepped up to personally financially support this effort. Andy and Albie Frank---we'll never be able to thank you enough for the very large kick start donation---and Nick Drizos, Sr., we thank you for assisting in getting us to the closing table.
A BIG thank you to Russ Tilton, our realtor, who from the very beginning has given his all to this project in expertise, in-kind services, personal financial support -- and some hand holding along the way as well! Your commitment was the driving force that got us to this day. Thanks as well to David Bowman, our attorney, who went to bat for us all the way to the very end.
The incredible support we have received for securing a permanent home for SMART has ranged from long time supporters to steadfast volunteers and SMART families, from old friends to new friends and anonymous friends. We thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts. You ALL are to be applauded for helping to make it possible for SMART to celebrate our 25th year of service to our community in our very own beautiful, 23 acre equestrian facility. It is just absolutely the perfect home for SMART!
We hope to be moved into our new home by the first of March. We'll be spending the next couple of months getting everything ready for a smooth transition and move from our current site to our new home.
We can't wait for all of you to come out to see our new home for yourselves---and enjoy the beauty of the grounds, the admin and therapy center and the barns. We can't wait to see our SMART Riders having fun while taking care of their horses in the barn, riding in the arena and trail riding on the property. We can't wait to see our SMART families in rocking chairs on the wrap around porch, relaxing and watching the ducks on the pond. We can't wait to hear the joyous sounds of laughter and growth and healing that we just know are going to fill every space of our new home.
We have great plans for SMART's future in our new home with expanded program offerings and community outreach. We'll be planning a big celebration party in March and hope each and every one of you will plan to be there to celebrate with us.
Thank you all for being a part of SMART's dream for a place that we can ALL call "home"!
SMART therapy horse, Magic, receives NARHA Region 5 Horse of the Year Award! -
NARHA National Convention Awards Banquet, November 6, 2010 Denver, CO
We are so proud of our magnificent Magic!
Magic is one of our therapy horses at SMART (Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy.) He came to our program 3 years ago and is very special in many ways---but the most obvious is that he has a “special need.”
Magic is blind. Not just “one-eyed blind”---but totally blind. In fact, he had both eyes removed after a serious eye infection when he was only three! His previous owner, Jody Lynn McBrien put extenisve care and training into him and had successfully shown him in lower level dressage for many years after he went totally blind.
Magic has transformed our program in so many ways. He has a way about him that captures everyone’s heart instantly. Proud, regal, loving and gentle---his whole being always seems to be saying “Hey, look at me. I’m incredible.” He is always “watching” what is going on around him with ears forward, and he is always open and eager to receive the affections and accolades that come his way.
Magic is a favorite of all of the SMART Riders, whether they actually get to ride him in their riding therapy session or just get to spend time grooming him and hanging out with him. He brings out a gentleness and empathetic affection from every single participant that is hard to produce or duplicate from any other source—and is beautiful to witness.
Several times a year, Magic performs in a musical freestyle with Jody Lynn (now SMART Volunteer!) He WOWs everyone with his elegance and beauty---and his respect for and trust in his rider is very apparent. So are his abilities!
The message that Magic has brought to the participants in our program is this: Magic has a disability. A profound disability. And yet, he is loved, he is beautiful, he is strong and bold, he is admired, he is respected and respectful, he has a job, he is worthwhile, he has friends he can trust and is trustworthy, and he is loved. Deeply and truly.
You'll want to read the book written about this magnificent horse by his original owner (and now SMART Volunteer) Jody Lynn McBrien.
"Magic, One SMART Horse" can be purchased through www.Lulu.com
Written by: Susie Bowie
12/10/2009 9:40 AM
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County's Nonprofit Resource Center feels proud to work with you throughout the year. We know you're the ones on the front lines dealing with tough everyday realities as you make a positive difference. Our You're the Story $500 grant contest was conceived as a celebration of you. Many non profits come to us searching for ways to increase awareness about their impact. But the truth is, your own people are your best stories and you have the power to tell them.
Winning Program Story: Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, submitted by Gail Clifton
Mallory will tell you her first true love is a big, brown horse named Ricky. When she started coming to SMART for Riding Therapy four years ago, it was Ricky who helped her grow from a shy girl with slumped shoulders, hiding behind her bangs, to the happy, giggly teenager she is today.
In Ricky, Mallory found a kindred spirit-- he was a horse with a reputation for being strong willed and very smart, and she liked that. Living with CP, Mallory was resigned to life in her wheelchair with television and computer games for companionship. But she developed a whole new perspective the moment she was placed high in the saddle on top of Ricky.
Over the last few years, she and Ricky have accomplished great things. Through hard work and the help of her SMART extended family, Mallory is now able to sit upright and independently ride her horse at the walk. Occasionally she will still collapse on Ricky's neck, but that’s only because of yet another uncontrolled bout of laughter!
This year brought even greater accomplishments. Mallory’s physical therapists noticed that due to her riding therapy, she had improved upper body control and no longer crossed her legs at the ankles. Mallory's mother had always been told that her daughter would never walk; however, tapping into Ricky's strength, Mallory was up for a challenge.|
Eagerly, she set her sight on new goals, including walking. Mallory graduated from high school last May-- and walked across the stage to accept her diploma. A dream come true for Mallory, her family and those of us who love her. It took a lot of hard work, but Mallory would be the first to tell you (with a giggle) that she couldn't have done it without her big, brown horse named Ricky!
What judge Kivi Leroux Miller said: “This is a great story because through the journey of one girl and one horse, we understand the real impact that the organization can have. The results are crystal clear -- riding therapy works. The descriptive language is wonderful - we see the girl hiding behind slumped shoulders and bangs, with a social life limited to computer games. In the end we see her giggling and walking across the stage, something she was never expected to do. It's a great story of human triumph, made possible in part by the nonprofit.”
Congratulations to Mallory, Ricky and Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy!