Ride On at Will Rogers State Park
Serving the Entire Community with One Vision
Oct 26, 2015
Last fall the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation issued a Request for Proposals to operate an Equestrian Concession at Will Rogers State Historic Park. The goals of the RFP are to develop, operate and maintain a high quality lesson program, trail ride operation and to “support mental and physical therapeutic equestrian programs for people with disabilities.” Three responses were submitted Westside, the current concessionaire, Jigsaw Farms, a private trainer in Pacific Palisades, and Ride On. In April, the State awarded the concession to Jigsaw. Westside and Ride On filed a protest and a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is scheduled for November 16 – 19, 2015.
A Once in a Generation Opportunity
The equestrian concession at Will Rogers presents a unique opportunity for a public-private-nonprofit partnership. The high cost of land on the west side has driven most equestrian uses out of the area for all but the most affluent – it certainly will prevent a nonprofit from purchasing an equestrian facility to launch a therapeutic riding center serving the west side. An opportunity like the Will Rogers Equestrian Concession comes along once in a generation.
Ride On has a 20 year history of serving the entire community. Each week we serve 200 individuals, both children and adult, able-bodied and disabled. Alone in all of LA and Ventura County, Ride On also provides physical, occupational and speech therapy using the movement of the horse to improve function in a hippotherapy program that meets national accreditation standards. Ride On brings an experienced management team built on core values of programming excellence, financial transparency and accountability as a public trust.
Ride On is distinguished not only in its service to the disabled, but also in its service to the able-bodied community. The exceptional quality of Ride On's programs for the able bodied can be measured in the quality of its horses, the caliber of its instructors, and the success of its students.
Because of its service to the disabled, Ride On has a much safer herd of horses than the average barn. They are trained to tolerate almost anything and they are carefully selected for their ability to teach absolute beginners. This means we can better serve small children or timid riders who may have had accidents at other barns. At present, Ride On has four instructors who actively compete in dressage, hunters, jumpers, and/or three day eventing. Three of those instructors have achieved their United States Dressage Federation Bronze medal (achievement through third level dressage) while the other has achieved her USDF Silver medal, and a U.S. Pony Club B rating. Both our instructors and our riders have been successful at local and regional championship competitions.
In addition, Ride On has been fortunate to acquire many high quality show horses. These horses are highly trained in jumping and dressage and have so much to teach even the most skilled or talented of riders. Over the last several years many of our horses have shown in dressage at competitions recognized by state and national organizations, scoring well above sixty percent at First, Second, and Third level. Very few barns offer this caliber of horse in their lesson programs. For trail rides, Ride On has trails on-site at its Thousand Oaks ranch which are used on a daily basis. Each year, we take riders of all abilities to Paramount Ranch for trail rides in a national park.
A Nonprofit Approach
A public equestrian facility can be a center for learning about our heritage and our horses and their impact on our lives and the environment – just as Will Rogers desired. It can be inclusive of all abilities, it can be a hub of volunteerism for teenagers; it can be an entry path for families who have no tradition of involvement with horses but who desperately want to learn. Ride On’s proposal will ensure:
- A strong, inclusive vision of service to the broad community;
- A ground-breaking partnership of private philanthropy, public resources and a community nonprofit;
- A nonprofit financial model that re-invests all donations and fees in service delivery, in scholarships or educational programming for generations to come.
- That individuals with disabilities will gain unparalleled access to adaptive and therapy service now absent on the Westside and access to the wilderness open space on a daily basis in a safe, supported environment;
- That the entire equestrian community will gain an affordable, permanent equestrian center serving a wide range of disciplines and a diverse range of clients;
- That the entire community will gain from the historical interpretation of Will and his legacy;
- Service to veterans with equine facilitated psychotherapy, clinics with nationally recognized experts, school field trips, outdoor education, community service projects;
- In the 10 years covered by this contract, Ride On projects that we will provide approximately 90,000 lessons and therapy treatments just to the Westside community.