Vail Meadows therapy program back on its hooves

Vail Meadows Equestrian Center opened its stable doors to thank the community for its support after a barn fire killed ten therapy horses in March.

Visitors enjoyed free carriage rides, pony rides, a moon-bounce, and horse demonstrations at Saturdayâ??s event, held exactly six months after the devastating fire. It has been a long road to recovery, but the therapy program at Vail Meadows has started to rebuild with eight new horses.

â??We can never replace the ones we had, they were just a special group of animals,â?? said barn manager, Earnie Dickens. He continued, â??But the ones that are filling in theyâ??re getting the job done and everything is going great.â??

T-shirts sold at the event read "Our Fallen Heroes," listing the names of horses recently lost; Harley, Buddy, Merrylegs, Cherokee, Roxy, TJ, Chico, Pusher, Midnight, Taz, Wilbur, Tango, Cheese & Quackers.

Staffers say donations from the community have greatly assisted the recovery effort. Although Vail Meadows does not intend to build a new barn, plans are underway to enclose 24 new stables by the winter.