Grace Rides began because a small group of people decided to take a small step towards a God sized vision to love and serve others by using the horses that encompass their daily lives to invest in the lives of people with all different abilities. Through this journey Grace has countless stories of God using selfless people to make a huge impact in the lives of of our amazing riders and their families.
GRACE Rides was started in 2008, with a small core of volunteers, working out of the Oak Heaven Stables equestrian facility in Niceville. Our aim was to continue the good work of RACE (“Riding for Adults and Children With Exceptionalities”), RACE was Okaloosa County’s first therapeutic riding program. Mary Ellen Mayer, Helen Steels, and Linda Smith from RACE were great inspirations and we are truly grateful for the help they provided in launching Grace Rides. In addition to the support from RACE, we also had great help from Storybrook Farms, Opelika, AL, Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding, Lenoir City, TN, and Leaning Post Ranch, Molino, FL.
Since 2008, we have grown from a pilot program of 4 riders per week to over 35 rides per week in 2017. Last year, more than 5,800 hours were invested into our program by devoted volunteers, and we provided at least 890 rides for program participants.
Do to the incredible support of our community and generous donors we are currently in the process of building a 9,000 sq/ft barn in Defuniak Springs, FL. This will allow us to serve much more people and improve the lives of so many.
Once the program gets started in the Fall we are planning on launching other programs for people that will continue to improve the lives of so many.