Horse Therapy Group Forced from U of M Equine Facility

Updated: 10/23/2012 10:50 PM By: Chris Egert

Tuesday night was moving night for a local program that provides horse therapy to people with disabilities.

The organization called "We Can Ride" found out it cannot ride at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus anymore, much to the dismay of client Nadine Anthony.

Her life is horses.

After a stroke three years ago, she thought she'd never ride again.

"They saved my life, literally," Anthony told us.

Thanks to “We Can Ride" she and 300 adults and children in the metro with disabilities, get to dust off the saddle once a week.  Riding the horse makes her feel like her body still works again, she said it makes kids who sit in a wheelchair all their lives feel proud, and tall, if only for a short time.

But she and around 120 other clients will no longer be able to use the University of Minnesota's Equine Center in St. Paul for their therapy.  There are other locations around the area, but this one is the only one in the city. 

The U has decided it isn't renewing the lease.

Brad Thorsen is the group’s executive director.  Thorsen admits, "We did not plan for this to happen."

We were there as volunteers packed up Tuesday night to start relocating this part of the operation to Hastings.

Trevor Ames is dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Ames says he takes this cut personally, “For me it is a sad day that we can't continue our relationship with this very valuable program."

The U of M says it needed the space for its programs, couldn't afford to assist the non-profit anymore, and faced losing accreditation because of the group's animals being on university property.

Tuesday it was saddles; Wednesday it will be the horses that head off to Hastings.  Nadine Anthony says she may follow them, she’s now considering moving from her South Minneapolis retirement community.

Anthony told us, “I don't feel whole unless I'm with a horse, on a horse, and smell like a horse."

We Can Ride hopes to start therapy sessions in Hastings by this spring.