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PARDS began in 1984 as the South Peace Therapeutic Riding Association, an organization operating on a part time basis consisting of borrowed horses and facilities, and driven entirely by kindhearted and dedicated volunteers.

In the beginning, we had 4 children riding twice each week. Within a year we were supplying lessons for approximately 25 riders and were expecting to expand every year as a result of the demand for our program and the generosity and support of our community.

On March 19th, 1985 we were incorporated as a Non-Profit Society and in 1988 we took the name Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society and began using the acronym of PARDS.

After our incorporation we hired our first staff member, a Program Coordinator, and started down the road to becoming the full time facility we are today.

Throughout the remainder of the 80s, PARDS continued to grow and support from the community grew alongside us. By 1990, PARDS had about 120 volunteers, seven horses and was serving about 50 riders; in addition, plans were in the works to build a facility of our own.

In 1992, thanks to a donation of 20 acres of land by the Haberman family, and armed with a private donation of $100,000 along with $50,000 raised by the organization, PARDS started construction of a 100 by 110 foot building containing a barn, indoor arena, rider lounge and office area. The total cost of this new facility was approximately $250,000 with the remaining $100,000 supplied as Gifts in Kind and donated labour. This facility enabled PARDS to operate year round and meant that we had the capacity to serve double the then current 64 riders.

The new facility was completed and the first lesson was held in January of 1994. In June we held the first summer camp and began daytime lessons. Also under development were an 80 by 200 foot outdoor arena and fenced paddocks and pastures utilizing the entire 20 acre plot of land.

By the end of 1995, PARDS employed 2 full time and 2 part time instructors and had about 100 volunteers. We served over 70 riders from Grande Prairie and surrounding areas.

In 1998, we installed a lift system in the indoor arena thanks to a grant from the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation. This system facilitated mounting for riders with limited mobility.

In 1999 a hay storage shed was added to the property though the generous support of the Grande Prairie Rotary Club and volunteered labour. At this time PARDS had about 70 therapeutic riders and approximately 120 regular volunteers.
Rapid Growth

Throughout the next 6 years, PARDS client base increased by 174% due to the ability to increase program hours and partnerships with local schools. These schools recognized the benefit of including therapeutic horseback riding into the therapeutic curriculum of many of their students of all abilities.

In 2007 the County of Grande Prairie awarded PARDS with a long term lease on 55 acres of land adjacent to Evergreen Park and in the spring MC Pardell Contracting and Risely Equipment donated the clearing of part of the land for our future site.

2008 was a busy year, with PARDS serving over 350 riders in a year in lessons and inclusive summer camps. We utilized over 11,000 volunteer hours over the course of the year and employed 5 full time and 4 part time staff.

Following 2008, PARDS programs continued at full capacity. Efforts raising funds and strategizing the development of the new PARDS facility on the site next to Evergreen Park began to be a focus. We broke ground May 2013 and are looking forward to moving into the facility in 2016.
New Home

Our new home will triple PARDS’ capacity. The site includes an indoor riding arena which will accommodate simultaneous lessons, a fully functional barn for both program and public use, main floor and mezzanine level spectator seating, meeting and program rooms and outdoor riding arena and pastures. The facility was designed for efficiency, practicality and to meet the long term needs of the community. The design also incorporates increased capacity for revenue generating funding streams such as public horse boarding, arena rental and public riding programs to allow PARDS to take a proactive role in ensuring ongoing sustainable funding for our therapeutic programs.

 

Join them on September 15th for the Grand Opening Celebration at their brand new location. Get your tickets today at 780-538-3211 or https://www.pards.ca/

 

 

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