Leela Bushman, 7, gets her photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Fernie Therapeutic Horse and Pony Club volunteer Jess Norman and Daphne the miniature horse at the Old Barn on Sunday. Santa at the Barn raised funds for the club and also marked the launch of its horse sponsorship program. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Fernie club launches sponsorship program

Give the gift of a therapy horse this Christmas

This is the one gift horse you can look in the mouth – although it might mistake you for a treat.

The Fernie Therapeutic Horse and Pony Club has launched a sponsorship program to keep its herd well-shod to help children with disabilities learn natural horsemanship.

For $15, people can sponsor Skerpa the Icelandic horse or miniature horses Cowboy, Daphne or Cher for a week. An investment of $65 will cover one horse’s feed, ferrier and insurance costs for an entire month.

The not-for-profit organization celebrated the launch of the sponsorship program at its annual Christmas celebration, Santa at the Barn, on Sunday.

“We just thought we’d give people the opportunity to sponsor year-round instead of just at our events,” said vice-president Aaron Levesque.

“We thought if we could break down the cost of a horse per day and give people the option to sponsor for a week or a month… and give them a postcard with a picture of the three minis on it as a keepsake, they could do it for themselves, they could do it as a gift for others.”

Levesque said the club was fortunate to have the support of Montane Fernie and developer Parastone, which kept operating costs low.

“We don’t have a huge lease to use this barn and without that we would not be able to exist on that small amount of cash, so we’re very lucky,” she said.

Sunday’s fundraiser featured photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, wood carving, snacks, hot beverages, carolling and plenty of horse petting.

People could sponsor the herd at the event, which raised $951.50.

“Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to this event,” the club posted on Facebook, Monday.

“We can’t wait to see you all in the spring when we kick off year three of our program.”

For more information, visit Facebook.com/fernietherapeutichorseclub.

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Giddy up! Andrew Reynolds, 8, takes mom Sandra and sister Anna, 5, for a ride at the Santa at the Barn Christmas fundraiser on Sunday. The event raised funds for the Fernie Therapeutic Horse and Pony Club, which launched its sponsorship program. Turn to Page A12 to read the full story. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press Giddy up! Andrew Reynolds, 8, takes mom Sandra and sister Anna, 5, for a ride at the Santa at the Barn Christmas fundraiser on Sunday.

Club volunteers Jess Norman and Christine Walsh with Tamsin Hicken, 9, and miniature horses Daphne and Cowboy. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

There was carolling, hot drinks and horse petting at Santa at the Barn on Sunday. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Kylie Rogers-Walker and Sonia Roy perform Christmas carols at Santa at the Barn. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Mike and Pryah, 3, Davis have their photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and their dog Scruffy. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

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