Nonprofit horseback-riding agency finds benefactor in Courtesy Ford

Sequim resident Yvette Ludwar has good news.

After more than two years of submitting paperwork and undergoing stringent inspections, Native Horsemanship, a horseback-riding organization that gives lessons to able-bodied, at-risk, and special needs children, received official nonprofit status. That means individuals and businesses can make donations in confidence, knowing the money is going toward a charitable cause.

As a result, Courtesy Ford, of Port Townsend, is sponsoring the agency. The company has agreed to donate the use of a truck for hauling hay and horse trailers on an as-needed basis.

“I told Yvette, ‘I can’t give you a truck but if you ever need a truck, I’ll get you a truck,’” said Jack Charlton, Ford general sales manager. “‘If you need two trucks, I’ll get you two trucks.’”

Ford representatives also are trying to help finance the construction of an on-site covered riding arena so students can continue riding year-round. In the past, Ludwar has had to stop giving riding lessons during the rainy and snowy months of the year for liability reasons.

“What do you tell a kid going through therapy, ‘Sorry but the government says we have to close so you can’t ride anymore until spring’? That’s not fair,” Charlton said.

Because the Ford store cannot fund the project completely, Charlton said he plans to approach peninsula Rotary clubs for help fundraising. In the process, he hopes to educate the community about Native Horsemanship and what the organization has to offer.

“I’m surprised at how much awareness isn’t out there,” Charlton said in disbelief. “This is an amazing program.”

If all goes well, construction should start this fall and a covered riding arena should be available for children to use this winter, Charlton said.

Native Horsemanship received a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart earlier in the month. The money went toward buying hay, which with increased fuel costs has become more expensive in recent months, Ludwar said.

Much has changed at the farm, off Taylor Cutoff Road, over the past year. A handicap-mounting ramp was installed and the riding arena was enlarged and improved.

Native Horsemanship is in desperate need of volunteers. “I have some really good people on board but could use more,” Ludwar said. “If you like horses and kids, I could really use you.”

Ludwar teaches lessons four days a week and is considering adding another lesson day if ridership continues to grow. During one-hour sessions, children learn horsemanship basics as well as life skills and teamwork.

Lessons are given to children of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels.

For more information, to sign up for lessons, become a volunteer or make a tax-deductible donation, call 582-0907.

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