Dream Barn: Committed to Community
By Jess Hallas-Kilcoyne
As horse people, we’ve all dreamed about walking out the back door of our house, across the lawn, to a beautiful stable filled with happy horses. Whether your fantasy is of a cozy two stall barn or a 25 stall show facility, functionality and safety come first…which isn’t to say that beauty and luxury can’t be a part of your dream barn too.
Founded by Alexander (Sandy) J. Mitchell, MBE, Ashburn, Ontario
The natural wood finish highlights the arched ceiling inside the stables at WindReach. Sliding pocket doors with a self-closing feature and safety gates in viewing areas and stable alleyways promote safety, accessibility, and independence. Photo: Jennifer Crothers
When one thinks of dream barns, a therapeutic riding centre is typically not the first thing to come to mind. But Paralympian rider Alexander (Sandy) J. Mitchell (who will be competing in his fourth Paralympic competition in London in 2012) had a vision of a world class facility that catered to the elite equestrian and special needs rider alike. WindReach Farm was the result.
The farm officially opened in 1989 and became a registered charity in 1992, and the 10 stall stable and adjoining 80-x-208 foot indoor arena were constructed in 2003 by Dutch Masters Construction Services Inc.
Myriad windows dispel the gloom that is often present in indoor arenas, while the mounting block is especially designed to allow ease of mounting for the special needs rider while keeping in mind the safety of rider, handler, and horse. Photo: Jennifer Crothers
The following year, WindReach Farm hosted the first Canadian Open Paralympic Qualifier for Para-Dressage, and in 2005, the therapeutic riding program was established. In May 2010, it hosted the largest FEI Para-Equestrian event ever held in North America.
The entire facility at WindReach is wheelchair accessible which includes such features as light switches, water taps, feed doors, and saddle racks. The stall doors have grilles on the top and the bottom so that people in wheelchairs or of shorter stature can still see into the stall. Above all, accessibility and safety were the top priorities during the design process.
WindReach Farm is proof that functionality and beauty aren’t mutually exclusive. Natural wood finishes and good lighting create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for horses, riders, and visitors alike.
Main Article Photo: Jennifer Crothers - The stable entrance features a graceful cupola which provides ventilation and natural light.
Also see: East Coast Reining Heaven