HorseSense banks on matching gift drive to recoup COVID-19 losses

Therapeutic horse-riding facility had to postpone two major fundraisers
Corona Virus Jpg

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The COVID-19 pandemic rudely reined in two major fundraisers for HorseSense, a nonprofit therapeutic horse-riding facility that specializes in serving youths, adults and veterans with disabilities.

In an effort to sustain itself after those financial setbacks, HorseSense created a matching gift opportunity for the next two weeks with its Coronavirus Crisis Campaign, said executive director Samantha Hall. Donations of up to $5,000 to support the local nonprofit will be doubled during that time, Hall said.

The campaign is intended to recoup some of the losses HorseSense expects from postponing the fundraisers, both of which were scheduled to take place in May, Hall said.

HorseSense also canceled lessons early this month to ensure the health and safety of staffers, volunteers, riders and their loved ones. The facility intended to resume classes April 6, but government mandates to thwart the spread of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the organization’s entire spring riding schedule — a loss of more than $18,000.

“HorseSense operates on a very conservative budget,” Hall said. “Without the revenue of both our lessons and our fundraisers, we’ll quickly run out of money. We need the community’s immediate support to keep our program afloat during this crisis.”

SammiHorseSense strives to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of riders by providing weekly therapeutic horseback riding lessons, Hall said.

The lessons help:

  • Improve physical health.
  • Provide a sense of accomplishment and control.
  • Create a positive environment for learning.
  • Emphasize the capabilities of each rider.

The HorseSense for Heroes program accommodates the special rehabilitative needs of veterans who are recovering from injuries sustained in the service.

Injuries include feelings of guilt, grief, anger, panic attacks, sleep disorders, military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, amputation, depression, anxiety and other service-related injuries.

Demand for therapeutic horseback riding lessons at HorseSense has skyrocketed in recent years. The organization experienced a 54% increase in ridership last year, and the program has grown by 184% since 2018, Hall said.

“So many people depend on us at HorseSense,” she said. “That’s why we need the community’s support right now. We need your help to weather this storm so we can carry on our mission when all of this is behind us.”

The matching gift opportunity will end at midnight Friday, April 10. Donations, which are tax deductible, can be made on the HorseSense website.  Additional details also can be found on the organization’s Facebook page @horsesensewi.