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Excitement building over reopening of Caledon Equestrian School

May 21, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Susan Fripp, the owner of the Caledon Equestrian School on Airport Rd, has had her fill of challenges after being ordered to temporarily close by the provincial government. 

Things are slowly turning around as the Ontario government has started to re-open the province, including lifting the restrictions for businesses that board animals including stables and equestrian centres that will allow boarders to visit and ride.

“It’s the new normal. I’m going from a couple of hundred kids in the summertime between my YMCA camps to who knows what,” explained Fripp. “But it’s looking better than it was yesterday.” 

The Caledon Equestrian School is a lesson-based facility. Without the capability of completing her lessons in-person, or having any boarders, there is currently no income for the school. Fripp was able to apply and receive support from the federal government through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), but it wasn’t able to pay for everything. 

“It was tough. I was kind of okay for part of April from (the) income we collected in March, but by May, when I looked at my books, it was jaw-dropping. It’s the first time in the 42 years I’ve been in business where I had no income,” said Fripp. “The horses are still eating, and the bills are still there. It was quite a shock and it’s been a big adjustment.” 

Fripp was able to continue paying her bills and providing for the needs of the animals, to a certain degree, through the “generous” community support. A couple of local fundraisers were held in support of the school, with other donations trickling in from the community in recent weeks.  

While the financial struggles, at times, played on her mind and weighed her down, Fripp didn’t realize how much she had missed the social part of her job until this week. 

“When a couple of the kids started coming back this week, it was just uplifting. The fact that we can open is fantastic, especially now I know how rough things can be,” she said.

Having been given permission to reopen this week, Fripp has already started planning for the future. She is putting a schedule together to re-start the various programs the school runs, while remaining mindful of the guidelines she is to follow to ensure participants and staff are kept safe.

This means smaller lesson groups of four students and one coach, and no students allowed in the barn. This will impact students, Fripp says, as grooming and preparing their horses for the ride is a part of the enjoyment. 

“Kids come, they spend time in the barn getting the horses ready, they ride, they pick out their stalls and they help out around the farm. But now no one is allowed in the barn,” expressed Fripp. “Our stage one is allowing advanced riders back and the new park boarders to come back.”

One Caledon resident is especially excited to hear of Caledon Equestrian School’s reopening.

“Horseback riding has been a constant in my daughter’s life for the last ten years. She has ridden, with very few exceptions, every Saturday and all through the summer since she was 10 years old. All of a sudden that came to a stop. She is constantly worried about the horses. Are they okay? Do they miss the hustle and bustle of their human family caring for them? She wanted many times to drive up to the farm just to check in on them,” said Renata Quattro. 

“My daughter is transported into a different world when she is riding. It’s a place of calm where the rest of the world melts away and she is truly just free. Without having those horses and farm breaks, plus the added stress of doing Grade 12 online, missing out on prom and grad, yet maintaining her grades and just trying to cope with being cooped up for weeks on end, I can see the weariness in her eyes. She is an absolute stellar rider and my heart breaks knowing that the one place she wants to be more than anywhere else is atop her favorite pony Cira, and riding in the outdoor grass paddock at sunset,” she added.

On the positive side, Caledon Equestrian School, following months of challenges, is now reopen. Fripp couldn’t contain her excitement with the small step in the right direction for her farm and business, but still hopes the reopening of the province continues to be gradual.

“We’re getting through this one, but if it happens again in another two or three months of shutting down, we have to really be careful,” she explained. “We don’t want it to be too fast because we want to be safe. As much as we are torn because we really want to get going, we can’t. Slow and steady wins the race.”  

For more information the Caledon Equestrian School, please visit caledonequestrian.com. 



         

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