THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — Stepping Stones in Thousand Oaks is a place where people go to ride horses.
“It’s been horrible. We have had to cancel lessons for almost three solid months,” says president of Stepping Stones Sarah Day.
The mission of the riding program has always been to pair donated or rescued horses with underprivileged riders, many children and many of them with special needs, in hopes to enrich the lives of both.
Day says she’s used to cleaning up after the horses but this winter the organization spent most of the time cleaning up after Mother Nature. Moving on from all the mess and destruction has been difficult.
Stepping Stones makes money giving riding lessons — since they haven’t been able to ride, co-founder Nancy McChesney says they had to start a GoFundMe oage to raise money just to feed the horses.
“Other big storm came along and the tarp just went flying off the top of the hay,” said McChesney.
The horses used to live in stalls here but during one of the storms a whole fence was blown over and the winds carried their stalls away setting all of the horses free.
“They really couldn’t move around the pasture, hardly move it was not only muddy but slick,” said McChesney.
Aside from the physical and financial damage this winter has caused kids also miss coming out to ride.
“Their parents will say we’ve been dying to get back up here. We miss our horses. The kids miss the lesson,” said McChesney.
Parents like Amy Yandell say they hope everyone is back in the saddle soon.
“It would mean the world to my family I know, and many others here to not only see this program rebuild but hopefully thrive,” said Yandell.