GRACE Rides’ mission is to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies to improve the lives of individuals with special needs. They offer services under the standards of the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (“PATH”), at no charge to persons 2 years old and up. They service individuals with a wide range of disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, cognitive impairment, PTSD, pervasive developmental delay, and traumatic brain injury.
With help from IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida, GEACE Rides constructed a fully accessible therapeutic riding facility. The 9000 square foot barn houses their 14 program horses on 10 donated acres in the center of an ideal service area. The facility includes indoor work areas and a climate-controlled classroom area to “weatherproof” our therapy sessions. This is a huge change for the riders who cherish and depend on their ride time, where in the past they endured regular cancellations due to rainy or inhospitable weather conditions. The barn is designed specially for the riders’ safety and comfort with accessible restrooms and clubhouse, safe and level parking areas and concrete barn flooring and work areas for wheelchairs and walkers. It is the central hub for riding/jump arenas and a shaded, specialized sensory arena and sensory riding trail designed for their riders on the autistic spectrum. This facility creates a first class environment for their deserving riders and rider families, volunteers and dedicated therapy herds (horses, goats, donkeys and chickens).
The GRACE Rides site supports a master planned campus using an adjacent 30 acres for recreation, retreats and camps for the local special needs community. GRACE Rides provides a covered arena/pavilion, 2+ miles of nature trails for walking or riding, an outdoor amphitheater and retreat style housing designed to minister to the physical and emotional needs of these families in a safe country setting.
Their long-standing waiting list for therapy rides testifies to the great need for this facility and expansion of the scope of GRACE’s programs. The facility’s parking and hospitality features allows for field trips and group session opportunities with groups like the Arc of the Emerald Coast , Emerald Coast Autism Center, Youth Village, Children In Crisis, Emerald Coast Wounded Warriors and VA PTSD counseling centers.