It’s a project that began back in 2005 when the organization’s board of directors launched an $11 million capital campaign to address the ever-growing needs of individuals with disabilities in the greater Seattle area.
The objective became to find a new facility with enough room to expand and reduce the waiting list.
Currently, the organization serves 222 riders and patients each week. There are an additional 225 individuals on a waiting list and the number continues to increase.
Some people have had to wait up to two years to receive services.
The delay in service delivery can be especially detrimental to kids where early therapeutic intervention is sometimes essential.
The new facility, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Dunmire Stables, will enable the organization to double its capacity and help ease wait times. Ultimately, services will be available for as many as 500 riders and patients a week, making it the largest therapeutic riding center in the country.
The new facility, which is situated on 17.5 acres in Redmond, boasts a 41-stall barn, enabling Little Bit to grow its herd of “four-legged therapists.”
It has a quarter-mile racetrack that provides riders with an enclosed and private place to do trail rides. This area will eventually be converted into a sensory trail. There are two covered arenas for year-round riding, with plans for an outdoor arena to be added in the future.
Riders, patients, caretakers, families and volunteers will now have a designated community viewing space to watch lessons and treatments.
In addition, there’s a tack barn for riders and patients to participate in grooming and tacking activities, and a training center to host volunteer workshops and certification sessions for attendees from across the country.
Though the organization had initially planned to retain its Woodinville facility with the aim of having two centers, it became clear that this was not a feasible situation.
“Our organization could not focus resources on expanding its community while operating two locations,” explains Cluny McCaffrey, deputy director of Little Bit. “Legacy Hunters and Jumpers purchased the Woodinville facility from us in September 2012.”
According to McCaffrey, the total cost of the organization’s new home is expected to be $11 million. The majority of funds raised have come through the generosity of the Little Bit community.
McCaffrey notes that individual supporters including Mike and Phyllis Dunmire, for whom the facility is named, John and Kelly Olerud, Karyl and Elias Alvord and Eve and Chap Alvord are among the many generous donors.
Additionally, grants from the Norcliffe Foundation, Taxpayers of Washington State, C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provided financial support.
McCaffrey explains that the new facility required only slight modifications to its existing structure, as it was once a thoroughbred training center.
She says, “Little Bit made improvements to the horse barn, indoor arena and hay barn, and converted the home on the property to a training center. To comply with guidelines, a rain garden was installed to protect the Bear Creek salmon habitat. We also constructed a new tack barn and a second covered arena, as well as a state-of-the-art welcome center, consisting of a community lounge for families and volunteers, therapy rooms and staff offices.”
The new facility is a dream come true for Little Bit Executive Director Kathy Alm, who notes that the organization’s goal of doubling the number of people served will now be attainable.
She is grateful to all the supporters who made this possible and emphasizes that Little Bit owes its continued success to so many dedicated individuals. “An intersection of strong board and staff leadership, along with the inspiring support of our community has brought Little Bit to where it is today,” adds Alm. “It’s the people behind Little Bit who have made us a leader in the therapeutic horsemanship field on a global scale.”