Stanwood, Wash. — The peaceful pastures of Warm Beach Horse Camp were recently disrupted by the din of hammers, drills, and saws. The sound of volunteers donating their time and skills to make a dream come true.
It’s the 25th annual Rampathon, and free ramps are being built all over the Puget Sound region the weekend of May 19th courtesy of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.
But this one is a big project. And it’s special, according to MBAKS Executive Director Kat Sims.
“They're building this amazing ramp to help facilitate getting kids with disabilities on horses,” she said.
Ashley Schreiber is horse crazy for the same reason any other 12-year-old girl is:
“They're fun!” she said.
They're also therapy - riding helps Ashley manage cerebral palsy.
"They work me hard in my core and my strength and my balance,” she said, referring to her riding coaches.
"So she works really hard when she's on the horse,” added her mom, Jo.
Ashley is a member of Warm Beach's vaulting team -- vaulting is doing gymnastics on the back of a moving horse.
The sport welcomes adaptive riders like Ashley. And until now, the hardest part for her was mounting up.
“Well we didn't have a ramp here, so we were having to lift people up onto the horse’s backs,” said Ashley’s coach Ginger Reitz. That’s a lot of work, considering that Warm Beach also has an adaptive rider program.
Finally, the construction in the arena stops and it’s time for Ashley to test that ramp. She steers her motorized wheelchair up the ramp to horseback level and is easily helped onto Freya – a Percheron mare. And just like that, Ashley is free of her wheelchair, astride the back of a gigantic, and gentle horse.
"The favorite part for me of a ramp being built like this is we're not just building a ramp, we're building something bigger in the community - momentum for hope,” Sims said. “This is what our team does. We build things to make life better for folks. So it's a perfect match.”
Judging from the smiles on the faces of Ashley’s coach, her mom, and Ashley herself, this new ramp works just fine. And now that getting on the horse is easy, Ashley can focus on some of her vaulting moves.
Just a girl on her horse – with a little help from some hard-working friends.
Story sponsored by Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.