Successfully completing a high-quality construction project is rewarding; knowing that the project will provide a benefit to children with disabilities is even more fulfilling. Varco Pruden Builder™ Knight Building Systems Inc. had this experience. In the spring of 2014, the design-build company based in Agua Dulce, Calif., constructed a new covered riding arena for Carousel Ranch, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing developmental therapeutic and recreational programs for disabled and disadvantaged children through horses. Established in 1997, Carousel Ranch operates 100% from donations and does not charge for the services offered.
The concept of equestrian therapy combines vaulting (gymnastics on a moving horse) and therapeutic riding (both English and Western), resulting in an exceptional goal-orientated program for special needs children. The goals and benefits are different for every child, depending on their individual needs. The movement of the horse causes an inherent response from the child, relaxing muscles that are tight, increasing tone in muscles that are weak, building balance, coordination and control, which in turn enables children to use hands and arms, sit, stand and walk.
Due to the varying seasonal climates of the Santa Clarita Valley where Carousel Ranch is located, heat can be excessive and precipitation threatening. Protecting students from the elements, either 110-degree summers or rainy winters, is of significant importance to the organization. Lessons are routinely cancelled when temperatures rise above 100 degrees or when rain begins to drizzle.
To combat the issue, Knight Building Systems erected the long-awaited steel covered riding arena to provide shade and weather protection. The new arena includes a 106' x 150' (15,900 square foot) steel cover. Varco Pruden products used in the construction include a Panel Rib™ roof system in Sierra Tan covering a 150’-0” clear-span Rigid Frame system.
The project, which had been in the works since 2005, allows Carousel Ranch to offer more classes in a variety of weather conditions, a factor that led to more than 450 cancelled sessions in 2012. Since the arena’s completion, teachers no longer have to cancel lessons, slowing student progress, due to weather. The covered arena allows both riders and staff members teaching lessons to be protected from the heat, sun and rain, and allow sessions to be more comfortable for students.
“Many of our children have conditions which make them vulnerable to heat stroke and when we experienced frequent temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s we had to cancel sessions in the past. Under the new arena it is about 20-degrees cooler, offering a much safer climate for our children. In the event of light rain, we used to have to cancel sessions, but not anymore. We currently serve 80 children and have double that amount on our waiting list,” said Denise Tomey, Carousel Ranch co-founder.
The project was funded through a capital campaign and multiple donations (including labor, materials, equipment and funds) from local companies and individuals. Varco Pruden contributed the steel used for the covered riding arena at a substantially discounted price.
“I, and all at Carousel Ranch, can’t thank Varco Pruden Buildings enough (especially VP President Chuck Haslebacher) for the help with the cost of the steel. It sincerely made a difference in getting this project done,” said John Knight, president of Knight Building Systems.
Tomey agreed, “The arena is amazing. We can’t thank Varco Pruden, Knight Building Systems and our community of hands-on contributors and donors enough for making this decade-long dream come true. This year no sessions have been cancelled thanks to the new arena cover.”
“Our growth plans include serving more children in the future, providing more sessions per year and paving the way for more service to our community and its needs. Please visit our website at www.carouselranch.org to see the amazing new arena and the inspiring children and families that we serve.”