Sun and clear blue sky. Pinwheels spinning in the breeze. Savory smells from food trucks mingling with the scents of sunscreen, cool air off the river, and warm hay. The much anticipated day to celebrate KTRA's 30th Anniversary had finally arrived.
The ground was humming from open air music and purring generators. The air was alive with voices laughing as people flowed through the KTRA grounds greeting one another, grouping and regrouping. Friends old and new swapped hugs and news as we all took in the warm weather and cosy atmosphere.
We volunteers buzzed around like bees in our bright yellow shirts manning different stations: riding lessons, goats, info booth, parking, ticket raffle. So many volunteers showed up to support that our work was much divided and therefore light, allowing us to join in the festivities and get to know each other better.
Our KTRA riders came to visit us too! And so many excited kids showed up! There was lots of wide open space to run around on or push wheelchairs across.
Beside the information booth? Homemade quilts and wooden crafts for sale. Also, a face painting booth.
Krystal Williams of Face It Face Painting was busy turning young, shining faces into tigers and sparkly ponies. Her art was gorgeous and swiftly applied with quality paint. Even some of the adults took part. Krystal was gentle with a pretty smile and thick hair that caught the breeze. She listened carefully to each little customer's ideas on what unique touches they wanted applied to their artwork.
I asked her some questions while munching on a delicious poutine from Cookshack Cravings.
Q. What do you love the most about painting faces?
A. The smiles and how happy it makes people.
Q. How long have you been doing this kind of art for?
A. Over 10 years.
Q. What else do you enjoy doing?
A. I really love tending to my garden and going for long aimless walks with my kids.
Fellow volunteer, Kate Greffard, sat down beside me with a box of warm, fresh mini donuts from Lakeside Concession and Mini Donuts. Thankfully she shared. As sugar and cinnamon melted in my mouth, well known and loved Uncle Chris the Clown arrived with honks and shouts, wearing his wildly colorful costume and oversized glasses. A crowd quickly gathered around him.
As Uncle Chris made magic out of balloons, local musician, Tanner Dawson, sang us country songs from the deck of his truck.
Tanner grew up in the small town of Chase, BC. He began his love of music at a young age, learning acoustic guitar by ear in the summer of 2012 when he was 15. Now he can play many different instruments including Guitar, Drums, Mandolin, Bass, Cajun Drum, Doboro, Ukelele, and slide Guitar!
He has also learned to play many different styles of music such as Blues, Swing, Rock, and of course, Country!
One day Tanner hopes to experience what it is to be a professional musician. We really enjoyed his performance at our Open House so good luck Tanner! https://www.tannerdawsonmusic.com/
A baby cow named Frank circled the grounds with his owner, a member of the Lower Thompson 4H club, along with two soft, woolly sheep named Tiny and Precious. People took turns sinking their fingers into the thick, spongy wool. Nearby the KTRA goats were receiving pets and enjoyed being groomed.
Soon after, Raven from Kamloops Drum Connection arrived in flowing skirts to set up her drum circle under a tent on the grass. Some people started dancing.
To add to the colors and excitement of the event, beautiful bright parachutes from Kamloops Skydivers floated through the blue sky above us; lime green, rainbow, fluorescent orange. It was a day to remember.
KTRA would like to extend a big, heartfelt thank you all who participated in the event.
This event was sponsored by https://infotel.ca/kamloops
The Happy Camper, Cookshack Cravings, Lakeside Concession and Mini-Donuts, and Eats Amore
Uncle Chris the Clown, Tanner Dawson, and Kamloops Drum Connection
Face It Face Painting and Lower Thompson 4H Club
I asked Executive Director of KTRA, Ashley Sudds, for a quick summary of her thoughts regarding last week's event:
"It was such a nice weekend weather wise, everything came together very easily. Everyone who attended had a lovely time and there were lots of smiles. I think people, children and adults, really enjoyed the horseback riding lessons. The entertainment was great! The food from the food trucks as always was amazing. I cannot thank the volunteers and vendors enough for their help in putting on a fun event. The only thing that I would change is that I wish more people had been able to come and share our celebration with us. We have an exciting event idea for the fall/winter so I hope people keep an eye/ear out for what's to come."
To all who attended, participated, performed, volunteered etc. thank you for helping us celebrate 30 years!
Ali Viner has been a volunteer and rider at KTRA for 27 years! She describes her friends and horses at the center as 'her family'.
A caring and determined young woman, she has had a variety of challenges to overcome and big dreams to chase. She joined me for a Q and A recently; I wanted to learn about Ali and what therapeutic riding has meant to her!
Ali, can you share with us about your experience with KTRA?
I have been involved for 27 years in pretty much all capacities and aspects of KTRA.
What have you gained as a person and as a rider from your experience with KTRA?
What I have gained is confidence in all areas: mental, physical, and emotional. I started riding many different horses and progressed to an independent rider. I learned proper riding skills and gained skills through horse ownership and competing in horse shows.
As a person, KTRA has also given me experiences such as public speaking, volunteering, fundraising, employment, and involvement with many areas of KTRA's growth.
What are your goals as a rider?
Since the age of 9 my goal has always been to compete internationally through Para Equestrian and represent Canada in the Paralympics or the World Equestrian Games. Currently I am working toward my first EC Sea to Sea Para Dressage Video competition walk/trot test in October of this year.
What are your personal challenges as a rider?
I have mild spastic right sided hemiplegia cerebral palsy which affects my balance, hand eye coordination, and muscles in my legs. As a result I ride with a whip as an aid like an extension of my leg. My struggles are also mental and emotional as I have an acute anxiety disorder as well as learning disabilities.
Can you share with us about your horse partner you are working with this year?
I am currently riding Theo, a 17.2 hand draft x grulla gelding which is KTRA's tallest horse. Theo and I have been working together since April of this year. Theo is very much a challenge but I enjoy riding him and working with him. I ride him once per week and we are currently working on walk/trot transitions. We hope to achieve our goals we have set together this year and fun doing it!
Who makes up your support system outside of KTRA?
My mom, Gayle, my sister Samantha, my support workers through Insight Support Services, and my fiancée, Jill.
What are your other hobbies outside of riding?
My other hobbies include photography, advocating for and mentoring kids with disabilities, and public speaking.
For a little fun, what is your favorite food?
Definitely my mom's fettuccini and my grandma's mocha cake!
I was really happy that Ali shared her story, her challenges, and her aspirations. She is very thankful to be sponsored by KTRA as a rider for the Spring Session 2018. You can find out more about Ali by following her page on facebook!
AliciaA.V Para Equestrian
She regularly posts video updates, work out and fitness photos, and updates regarding riding goals. She encourages everyone to join her journey and check out her page!