Equine therapy center that helps hundreds of local kids searchin - KPTV - FOX 12

Equine therapy center that helps hundreds of local kids searching for new home

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Janelle Hadfield said the treatment that her son Carter has received for his epilepsy and developmental delays at Forward Stride has helped her son become stronger while also being fun. (KPTV) Janelle Hadfield said the treatment that her son Carter has received for his epilepsy and developmental delays at Forward Stride has helped her son become stronger while also being fun. (KPTV)
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

A popular horse therapy program is being forced to pack up and go after the owners of the property where the program is located moved forward with plans to develop the land into housing.

The move could impact hundreds of local kids and their families who participate in Forward Stride, an equine therapy center in Beaverton.

Janelle Hadfield brings her son Carter to Forward Stride weekly. Getting Carter to stand on a horse was a big deal, but he's able to do it with help of therapists and trainers at the Forward Stride who specialize in using equine movement as a form of therapy.

"Carter has epilepsy and some developmental delays," Hadfield explained. "I do a lot of other therapies with Carter in an office, but it's not as fun for him. It's really nice to be outside, watching him on an animal."

Carter is one of 280 local kids Forward Stride helps year-round and who depend on the facility for treatment.  

So, when families found out that the nonprofit's arena on Southwest Horse Tail Drive is going to be knocked down and turned into housing, it didn't go over smoothly.

"It's something that I don't want to stop because I am seeing progress in him,” Hadfield said. “He's getting stronger and he's been really happy."

Forward Stride Executive Director Jason Burdge told FOX 12 he's always known this was a possibility.

"When we entered into the leasing agreement for this location in 2008, we knew it would be turned into land development eventually, and now that time is here,” he said. “Metro Land Group through Tri Star owns the land, and they've been working with us, because they don't want to see us go down, but at the same time they run a business."

Burdge said he always thought that when the time came relocating to a new facility would be easy, but that turned out to be far from true.

“Having 31 horses and two arenas, plus an outdoor space, there are not very many locations that can hold an organization and an equine facility of our size," he said.

With nowhere else to go, the nonprofit made the call to build its own facility off Southwest Daniel Road in Beaverton on land that was partially donated to them.

Forward Stride staffers say they came up with enough money to secure that land but need even more to build on the property. They're now up against a ticking clock to find the funds.

"Just In the next 8 months, we have to do all of this,” Burdge said. “And there will be some immediate time in the near future where bulldozers will be coming down the road to tear down the facility."

If the nonprofit can't secure all the money it needs by March, Burdge said it might have to move to a short-term facility instead, which could seriously limit the programs it could offer, news that is unsettling for families like the Hadfields.

"Sometimes kids with neuro issues, they're very routine and that weekly visit with the same people and the same horse is really important,” Janelle Hadfield said. “If we had a big gap I can see that affecting Carter negatively."

Forward Stride has launched a capital campaign to help raise money for the new facility. Information on the campaign and links to donate can be found at ForwardStride.org.

FOX 12 reached out to Metro Land Group for comment, but at the time this story was published we have not heard back from them. 

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