Showing posts with label programs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label programs. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2024

Mini horses making large impact at Riding To The Top

By Nicole Levine

Riding to the Top, Windham’s local non-profit therapeutic horse riding center, has welcomed two new mini horses, AppleJax and Apollo, to their farm.

AppleJax is a 9-year-old mini horse who joined
Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center
in Windham last fall. He has carriage driving
experience and is expected to become part of
RTT's carriage and unmounted therapy sessions
along with RTT's school-based programs, field
trips, and summer camps. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Riding to the Top (RTT) has been serving the Windham community for 31 years and offers services such as therapeutic riding, therapeutic carriage driving, equine assisted learning, and hippotherapy for individuals ranging in age from 3 to 90-plus. They assist with a wide range of disabilities.

Despite their size, mini horses are classified as horses and not ponies. They have a significantly longer lifespan than larger horse breeds, and can live into their 30s. Because of their size and calm nature, they are known to make fantastic therapy animals, providing individuals with comfort and companionship.

RTT has been home to mini horses for many years, however when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, much of the farm’s normal operation was up in the air.

During this time, a friend and donor of the farm was looking to find some companions for her own horse. The minis that were living at RTT in 2020 were then relocated and integrated into her herd. This became the mini’s new home, and it was later decided that it was in their best interest to stay where they were, and not relocate them back to RTT again.

The organization had continued to work with their generous friend, and began providing mobile field trips during COVID, where they would take the minis on the road.

“This proved to be very popular and we realized that the minis were easier to transport and less intimidating for people of all ages,” said Sarah Bronson, RTT’s executive director. “In 2023, we started looking to have minis at the farm again.”

Currently, RTT has two mini horse residents. AppleJax, who, following an assessment in Western Massachusetts was donated to the farm last fall, and Apollo, who is a new addition just this spring.

Both of the mini horses work with unmounted therapy sessions, and are planned to be an active part of RTT’s school-based programs, field trips, and summer camps.

AppleJax also has carriage driving experience and is planned to join the program for that at RTT in the near future.

Currently age 9, AppleJax has been doing very well on the farm. Bronson describes him as having a curious and adventurous personality.

“AJ's been working on his ‘office skills’ and is pretty comfortable visiting all of our staff in their offices,” she said.

Apollo is 17 years old and is continuing to adjust to his new environment, after arriving only a few weeks ago. He is a “free lease” horse, meaning he has an owner, but resides on the farm where RTT takes care of his needs.

Following protocol, Apollo was in two weeks of quarantine to ensure the safety and health of the rest of the herd on the farm. He's been doing well, and is slowly being introduced and spending more time with his new mini buddy, AppleJax.

Apollo is currently located in the mini paddock also known as RTT’s ambassador area. Although visitors do not have access inside the gated area, people visiting the farm can easily see the minis and can pet them through the fence.

RTT volunteers say that the minis are much less intimidating due to their size, which could serve as a great introduction to equine riding and therapy for those new to horses. Although less intimidating, they still need as much care and leadership to guide them, just as the other horses require, especially in any new circumstances.

The minis, like the rest of the horses, eat hay and grain, but in significantly smaller amounts. Their veterinary and farrier costs are roughly the same as the rest of the ponies and horses, which is estimated to cost around $5,000 per year.

RTT’s minis also require the same grooming and farrier care as the other horses at the farm.

However, due to their size, they require more flexibility from their groomers while picking their hooves and trimming their feet. By utilizing a pedestal, this process is made easier and more comfortable for AppleJax and Apollo. It is still one of the challenges that come along with grooming the minis.

RTT is excited to welcome back mini horses to their farm and programs. They make a wonderful addition to the diverse group of horses at the farm.<

“We believe that the minis will be a great fit to have at RTT again and are looking forward to being able to have them active in all sorts of programming.” explained Bronson. “Training is an ongoing process and involves lots of people handling them, working them in a variety of environments at the farm and then expanding their horizons to off-farm activities.”<

Friday, November 20, 2020

Raymond Village Library makes annual appeal

By Briana Bizier

Sometimes it feels like the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. As we adjust to working from home or working while wearing a face mask, helping our children with hybrid and distance learning, and the awkwardness of Zoom dinner parties, our community connections have become more important than ever.

The Raymond Village Library is not fully funded
by the town of Raymond and nearly half of
the library's budget comes from grants and
private donations collected during their fall
Annual Appeal, now under way.
One of those community institutions is now asking for your help. Unlike many similar libraries, the Raymond Village Library is not fully funded by the town of Raymond. Nearly half of the library’s budget comes from grants and private donations. This means that the funds used to purchase new books, pay for subscriptions, and support their wonderful librarians come directly from generous community donations during their fall Annual Appeal. Raymond Village Library cannot function without the financial support of its patrons and donors.

This investment in our community is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Raymond Village Library has played an essential role in helping Raymond residents navigate this strange and unprecedented time.

As soon as Maine’s COVID restrictions allowed, the Raymond Village Library began offering curbside pickup of books, movies, and children’s materials. The initial curbside pickup program was incredibly well received.

“Our pick-up was so popular we started running out of bags for the books,” said Allison Griffin, Director of the Raymond Village Library. This service is still available through phone, email, and the library’s website at

As the entire world stayed at home and much of our lives moved online, the free internet connection offered by Raymond Village Library became more important than ever. Generous community donations this fall allowed the library to provide additional outdoor seating around picnic tables so that the wi-fi was easily accessible even if the library was closed. In addition to providing internet service, the library also has a professional Zoom account, so that library events, such as the monthly book club or community classes, can be held safely online.

Some of the most perennially popular activities at the Raymond Village Library are the weekly baby and toddler story time hours. When social distancing requirements made those gatherings impossible, Children’s Librarian Karen Perry got creative. The library now offers weekly Story Time At Home kits complete with crafts, books, and songs to help encourage a love of literacy in even the littlest library patrons. These kits, as well as teen and tween crafts, are available every week and are always free of charge.

In addition to the take-home Story Time kits, Perry also created two popular outdoor Story Walks. The first, Jack in the Beanstalk, wound its way around the Raymond Community Garden this summer while the second, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, follows the store window fronts in the Raymond Shopping Center.

All of these activities are only possible thanks to the generosity of Raymond Village Library patrons. Unfortunately, even as the pandemic has made so many library services invaluable, it also has disrupted many of the library’s traditional fundraising activities. The Raymond Village Library truly needs our help this year more than ever.

The library’s 2020 Annual Appeal aims to raise $40,000. This amount will allow the library to expand staff hours in addition to continuing regular (or, regular for the pandemic) services. Donations to the Raymond Village Library are accepted in person, through the mail, or at their website: Contributions of any amount will allow the Raymond Village Library to continue providing books and activities to babies and toddlers, internet access to students completing their work online, new books to homebound seniors, and classes to all members of our community. Together, let’s make sure our library remains available for all our friends and neighbors during this difficult time. <