Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska starts construction on indoor arena

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A local non-profit dedicated to those with disabilities is expanding via a brand new indoor riding arena.

Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska will start construction on the arena Thursday.

The new addition could totally change the program's calendar and services, according to officials.

"A lot of times, these kids are here for 6 weeks," said Janie Call, EATA Program Director. "Parents see so much growth. They're stronger, more confident, and then all of a sudden, it stops."

Call said she's hoping that EATA will be able to push the schedule forward so that clients of all ages can train with them for six weeks, take a couple weeks off, and then return for another session.

"That way, they can continue growing, continue strengthening and developing," she said.

EATA has provided services for kids, adults and seniors since 1983. Program offerings include equine assisted therapies, equine assisted activities, and a special program solely for veterans called Freedom Reins.

Recently, EATA has served a few clients each hour, five days a week for six to eight weeks during the summer. Right now, EATA works with about 120 clients each season.

But that's going to change when the new riding arena - which opens this November - comes into play. It could help triple clientele numbers, according to organizers, and the arena will allow for the program to continue through the winter season starting in 2017.

"This summer, we had to cancel a lot for rain," Call said, because everything gets so wet. We don't mind riding in the rain, but the trails are wet, the arenas are wet. So now we won't have to cancel."

To learn more about the program, including volunteer opportunities, visit Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska's website.