Don’t let the magic at Victoria Acres die

To the Editor:

I have read with great interest your article in last week’s paper about the plight of Victoria Acres, a local therapeutic riding stable here in Guilderland.

I think the main theme of the article was concentrated on money and the situation facing them and the possibility of them having to close their doors looming near. While this is certainly vitally important, what the article didn’t say enough about and what I feel is crucial for the public to know is the work that is done at Victoria Acres and the importance of it to so many folks who go there.

We first learned of Victoria Acres when my daughter was researching facilities that would provide therapeutic riding for my grandson, Eric, who suffers with cystic fibrosis. We had no idea this gem of a place was nearly in our backyard!

We live about 10 minutes from the facility and yet that 10-minute ride transforms our Eric from a little boy who suffers on a daily basis from various ailments and pain and the behavioral issues associated with them at age 4, into a smiling, laughing, happy little guy who is able to put aside all the bad days — the trips to hospitals, the shots, the 13 medications a day, the inabilities to play as he should.

His attitude change is a wonderful thing to witness and it is all because of a horse, a staff that has grown to love him, the chance to be free from pain and more mobile than his poor little legs allow him to be on his own — in other words: Victoria Acres!

Eric goes to occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy and, although he goes along with it all, nothing brings him the joy that riding horses does! My daughter, his twin Paige, and I stand by the arena and watch every week — wishing the lesson could go on forever at times since he is so happy.

Before he rides, he’s in the barn picking out his horse for the week. Erin, the manager and founder, tells me that, for a little guy of 4 (just 3 when he started), he has ridden more of their horses — including a huge Belgian! — than any of their other clients.

After he rides, he is back in the barn, giving his ride a treat as a thank-you and discussing which horse he would like to try next week! It quite often takes us almost as much time to get him out of the horse barn as his lesson itself takes. But the staff is patient with him and allows him to soak up all the goodness and joy that he can, never rushing him out and always happy to see him when he comes.

You may notice I’ve mentioned the word “joy” numerous times. This is, of course, a word associated often with 4-year-old little boys. But in Eric’s case, and in the case I’m sure of many of Victoria Acres clients, joy is not a word used daily.

These folks suffer — they suffer from pain, limitations, and disappointments. They have mobility issues, self-esteem issues, cognitive issues, and perhaps social-skills issues. But here’s the thing: The horses don’t care about any of that.

And the staff cares so much about all of that, that the riding experience is geared toward elevating all these negatives from their clients’ lives — even if only for half an hour a week. You’d be surprised how crucial that half-hour becomes for these clients.

Eric has only been going to Victoria Acres since sometime in June on a grant from “Coach Ed” for folks with cystic fibrosis to keep them as active as possible, but it is already such a huge part of his therapy and his life that it breaks our hearts to even think about having to tell him  “Sorry, Eric, the facility has closed.No more lessons.”

We simply can’t let that happen!

I implore you to consider helping to raise the funds needed to keep Victoria Acres open for Eric and all the other clients whose lives would be so negatively affected should they have to close their doors.

There is a GoFundMe page online and on Facebook under “Support Victoria Acres Equine” or you can make donations directly to the facility located at 3771A Western Turnpike, Altamont, NY 12009, 518-813-8805.

I have also been authorized to receive donations on behalf of Victoria Acres at 6781 Route 158, Altamont, NY 12009, 518-209-5594.

In closing, I’d just like to add that the people who work with these clients are in large part volunteers and this is a not-for-profit organization. The money is for the facility to keep operational and to improve to a year-round riding experience for their clients.

Thank you in advance from the bottom of our hearts for any and all help you may be able to find in your hearts to send their way. Eric thanks you most of all. Ellie Mae, Oakie, Winnie, Miss Jingles, and all the other amazing equines thank you.

I’ve been around horses for many years and I swear to you these horses love what they are doing and on some level know how important they are in the lives of these folks! Please don’t let the magic die.

Patti Percoski