This year Rainbow Riders is celebrating their 35th year of giving therapeutic riding lessons and animal assisted activities to people with disabilities. They will be having an open house on Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will take place at the Rainbow Riders Farm at the end of Chestnut Street and Label Lane in Troy. It’s just past the old Silk Label building. The public is invited to attend.
The open house includes a tour of their farm, door prizes, and a photo booth. Rocky’s Hot Dog Cart will provide food.
Rainbow Riders is a local organization that provides recreational horseback riding and animal assisted activities for people with disabilities. A member of the Council for Education and Certification in Therapeutic Horsemanship (CECTH), Rainbow Riders was founded in 1983 and began giving riding lessons the following year. They started at Alparon Park and then moved to their current location at the end of Chestnut Street in Troy, formerly Ribstone Silos and Paxar.
“The reason we’ve been here 35 years and have such a successful program is because of our volunteers, our horses and other animals and our students,” said Caitlin McBratney. “It’s more than just a student teacher relationship.”
“We’re all family,” added Nan Gergel.
“Our students are amazing,” continued Caitlin. “Without them we’re just a bunch of crazy horse people up here.”
“We share our love, our joy and our passion with our students, with our volunteers and with our animals,” said Lainey McBratney.
“Everybody has a purpose up here,” said Caitlin. “Especially our volunteers.”
“We provide a homemade lunch for our volunteers every Saturday,” continued Caitlin. “Where else can you volunteer and get delicious homemade enchiladas?”
“And our horses always need good hay,” added Lainey. “We calculate everything up here in the cost of hay.”
According to Caitlin, their program has been scientifically proven to work.
“Veterans in horse environments have 87 percent less PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder],” said Caitlin.
Everyone at Rainbow Riders love to watch how their students grow – even learning something simple like left and right directions; and riding makes it so much easier. Students learn emotional skills and how to handle their emotions as well.
“The horses feel the love that our students give them,” said Caitlin. “Even when everything else is not stable in their lives, things are stable here; no pun intended.”
During the open house on June 29, there will be some sort of display of pictures of the Rainbow Riders from the past to the present.
“It’s been so much fun looking at old photos,” said Lainey. “Especially from 1984.”
According to Lainey, when they started in 1984 therapeutic riding was so different from the way it is today.
“It’s so much more now,” said Lainey.
Some of their other events coming up include the American Legion Riders Benefit Ride on July 21, which is a fundraiser for Rainbow Riders and the Game-A-Thon at Alparon Park on September 29. And don’t forget to look for the Rainbow Riders’ hot dog booth at the Troy Fair this year.
Winston S. Churchill said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man.”
Lainey added to this famous quote by saying, “When you put someone with cerebral palsy on a horse he is as equal physically as anyone else.”
“We want people to see who we are and the evolution of what we’ve done,” said Caitlin. “Come see the history of Rainbow Riders and all they have done for this community.”