Source: CTRA

The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association (CTRA) based in Duncan, BC, on Vancouver Island, provides equine-based therapeutic interventions, para-equestrian sport, and adapted recreational opportunities for persons with special needs in the Cowichan Valley. Over its 30 year history, CTRA has delivered life-enriching services to countless individuals and families in the region – providing community members with a vital space of inclusion, belonging, and personal growth. CTRA’s work is made possible thanks to unflagging community support that ranges from donated horses to thousands of volunteer hours contributed each year.

Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association Dairy Farmers Grant, CTRA Dairy Grant

In the fall of 2017, CTRA was selected as one of the recipients of Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Champions Fund – an initiative that aims to break down financial barriers for amateur female athletes as they work towards their goals in sport. Thirty grants of $5000 were distributed to individual athletes and sports organizations across Canada.

With this grant, CTRA will provide an equestrian summer camp for girls with special needs. This is an important opportunity for young women with special needs who may face exclusion from other sport/recreation opportunities because of their disability. Moreover, equestrian sport is notoriously expensive which can preclude participants and their families already facing multiple barriers. Through this funding, CTRA will be able to provide female riders of all abilities with an empowering and enriching camp experience that will help introduce new participants to the world of para-equestrian sport and help existing clients develop as athletes.

“Grants like Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Champions Fund are critical to our ability to offer high-quality, accessible programs for riders with special needs,” says Jennifer Barnes van Elk, Development Officer for the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association. “The nature of horseback riding means that equestrian sport is intrinsically inclusive, allowing for riders of all genders and abilities to train and compete together. The biggest barrier that developing equestrians face is usually financial, a prohibition that disproportionately impacts athletes with special needs due to the fact that persons with disabilities generally face significant income or employment challenges along with heightened expenses relating to both sport and daily life. CTRA actively works to bridge this gap in order to provide accessible equine-based therapeutic, sport, and recreational opportunities for persons with special needs. The support of funders like Dairy Farmers of Canada through grants like the Champions Fund is elemental to our ability to provide this service in our community.”

The Champions Fund, and the overarching initiative, Fuelling Women Champions, aims to inspire girls and women, regardless of age or ability, in local communities across Canada to realize the universal benefits of sport. Follow and join the movement online with the hashtag #ChampionHer.

About Fuelling Women Champions

Fuelling Women Champions is a national, multi-year initiative spearheaded by Canada’s dairy farmers, which is dedicated to the advancement of women in sport. Canada’s dairy farmers are personally committing their time, energy, and resources to this cause, and have partnered with several thought-leaders, celebrated athletes, and sports organizations. Visit Fuelling Women Champions for more information.

About Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC)

Founded in 1934, DFC is the national organization representing Canadian dairy farmers and striving to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry. Working within supply management, DFC promotes, as part of a healthy diet, safe, high-quality, sustainable, and nutritious Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk through various marketing, nutrition, policy, and lobbying initiatives. Driven by a strong sense of community, pride, and a commitment to improve Canadians’ health, DFC and Canadian dairy farmers actively support a number of local and national initiatives.

For more information on Fuelling Women Champions or Dairy Farmers of Canada please contact Geneviève Fontaine at (514) 284-1092 ext. 286, or email   

About Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association

The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association provides equine-based wellness programs for persons with special needs. Services include therapeutic riding, therapeutic horsemanship, para-equestrian sport, adapted equestrian vaulting, and stable management vocational development interventions as well as horse camps for children of all abilities. CTRA serves as a hub of inclusion and catalyst for human potential, enriching the lives of countless individuals and supporting key social determinants of health in our community.

For more information on the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association please contact Jennifer Barnes van Elk, CTRA Development Officer at (250)746-1028 or email

Photo: CTRA rider Julie Dann practices dressage on Valaddi. Photo courtesy of CTRA




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