Growing Pains

November 9, 2011

I was reflecting on our current client list this morning.  There are so many fabulous clients and families that grace our program throughout the year.  We see kids with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, social/emotional challenges, sensory challenges.  Our adults are faced with neurological impairments, brain injury, spinal cord injury, ALS.  The list goes on and is a beautiful example of diversity here at Front Range Hippotherapy.  We love each and every one and enjoy our time together.  We hear from you, and see for ourselves, the successes with each one.

 At FRH, we are here for different reasons, but with one common denominator– our horse partners.  The horses in our Front Range Hippotherapy herd are as diverse as the clients.  They’re hard workers, playful, obedient, strong-willed, caring, silly, sassy.  They’re big, tall, skinny, short–but they all have one common purpose:  To serve. 

 In the winter, we have extra challenges that come from working outdoors with animals and people together.  There is wind, temperature drops, precipitation, illness, weakened immunities, increased school and extra-curricular demands, holidays and school closings.  Front Range Hippotherapy has always seen a drop of clients in the winter months and 2011/2012 is no exception.

So why are we seeing such a negative impact on our business this year? 

It’s a catch-22.  We have grown SO much from 2009-2011, that many things had to happen.  We were so busy in the summer months, that our herd couldn’t comfortably absorb the client load.  We had to take on more horses.  All of you know Monarch, Penny & Romeo.  They have helped absorb our load and kept our service animals healthier and happier doing their work.  It doesn’t stop there, however.  With the increased client load, and more horses, came much more work.  Jenn and Amy and our small team of volunteers couldn’t manage the additional work, so we hired staff.  Staff members that joined us did our feeding, barn chores, horse exercising/training, and helped us in the office.  We contracted with therapists to accommodate all the treatment hours.   Summer flew by.  We were busy, we were growing and we were breaking even for the very first time. 

Now we’re at our slow season.  We’re seeing approximately 40% fewer clients weekly.  Fewer clients, but the same amount of horses, work, staffing needs and more administrative needs than ever.   Front Range Hippotherapy is in need of help.  Resources for fundraising, marketing, in-servicing, grant writing, as well as basic day-to-day operations are scarce.  Philanthropy and charitable giving is at an all-time low.  Our business is at a turning point.  We need to generate income that is not revenue-based.  We need to go out there and pound the pavement, ask the questions, tell the story.    We need the help of anyone who is willing.  Anyone who may have connections with folks who could help turn this season around to be one of productivity and income-generation. 

We want videographers, graphic designers, website managers.  We need grant writers, fundraising professionals, attorneys and accountants.  We need hay, feed, farrier services and veterinarian services.  We’re searching for interns, volunteers, professionals willing to donate their services and time.  We can no longer do it alone.  We are no longer a two-‘woman’ operation with 5 horses.  We are an organization in transition.  We want to keep our “small-op feel” while operating like a big organization.  We want to be taken seriously for the efforts and time we’ve put in and are willing to continue to put in.  We just can’t do it alone.

Please help.  If it is time, give it.  If you have contacts, please share them.  Tell our story.  Show our video.  Take pictures of your loved ones and post them on your facebook.  Become a Front Range Hippotherapy facebook friend.  If you have money to give, or know someone who does, please share it.  Are you a horse person?  Can you help donate hay, feed, training time?  Do you or someone you know have experience fundraising?  Are you a PT, OT, SLP interested in gaining experience in Hippotherapy?  It is now that we need your help the most!  No offer is too little—please contact us now. 

Thank you!