Hundreds of riders, from war veterans to children with special needs, are all booked to ride at Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center in East Aurora for the season. There’s just one big problem. All the snow that fell in East Aurora this past winter has taken a toll on the riding center’s indoor barn and riding arena. Right now, the indoor arena has been deemed beyond reasonable repair by structural engineers and lessons have been postponed until the weather improves and the outdoor arena can be used for the bulk of lessons.
The severe winter weather and recent snow melt has caused severe damage to our facilities, both to the indoor riding arena as well as the barn structure, which houses our horses. The buildings have been inspected by structural engineers and the indoor arena has been deemed beyond reasonable repair. The stall area will require extensive reconstruction. At this time, we have had to suspend classes until the weather improves and we can use the outdoor arena for the bulk of our lessons. Given our weather, relying on the outdoor arena will limit participation. This is a significant setback as classes were to begin in March and we are already fully booked on weekends until November.
The Lothlorien Board has been actively strategizing and our plan is as follows: 1) build a new, larger arena, 2) repair our stabling area and 3) tear down the small arena and convert this space to an outdoor ring. There are significant advantages to a new arena – our current indoor arena is small and we are at capacity because of these space limitations. A new larger arena would allow us to serve more and continue to grow.
The new arena is estimated to cost approximately $125-150,000. We have yet to determine the final cost to repair the stabling area but an assumed cost of $100,000 is reasonable. We will also have to assume the revenue that will be lost during the time of closure, approximately $25,000. Therefore, the total cost of rebuilding and operationally maintaining Lothlorien will be approximately $275,000. Our insurance coverage is $100,000, a mark we will reach and surpass. Thankfully, the Oishei Foundation has donated $30,000 and Ingram Micro has contributed an additional $30,000. This leaves Lothlorien with a $115,000 deficit.
Using therapeutically based equine activities, Lothlorien staff, volunteers, and horses assist individuals with physical, cognitive, mental and emotional needs to achieve their highest potential. Lothlorien also serves many individuals without defined need, but who simply benefit from the Lothlorien experience. This group includes our veterans and children living in the inner city. The impact of Lothlorien is far reaching and difficult to capture in words. For riders with physical challenges, riding provides an unparalleled sense of movement that is not achievable off the horse. Our horses have reached emotionally challenged children in ways that are indefinable. A rider may begin to express themselves in previously unimaginable ways as their comfort level on a horse evolves. We hear regular stories of improved interaction in home and school after riding. Most importantly, riding at Lothlorien is a preferred activity for many and loved and treasured by all.
Lothlorien has enjoyed remarkable growth and success over the past three years. A few highlights include multiple renovations, many new partners and collaborations and successful fund raising events. Our growth has been spectacular and we have served over 1,200 individuals over the last two years! Some groups that we accommodate on a yearly basis include: Camp Blue Skies (Hospice), Buffalo Boys and Girls Clubs, Buffalo City Mission children, BOCES programs, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Aspire, People Inc., Seneca Babcock Church, WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center, veterans groups, and numerous group homes for individuals with disabilities to name a few. These programs typically attend weekly lessons in 4 or 6 week modules. Our annual budget is approximately $185,000 with some growth built in. Our budget is tight and we rely heavily on donations from organizations and individuals in our local community.
Today we ask for your help to “Raise the Roof to Save Our Center!” Lothlorien provides a unique and valuable experience for so many. Please consider helping us in securing this wonderful community asset and ensuring that Lothlorien continues to grow and flourish. Thank you for your consideration and any assistance you can provide.