Whitemud Equine Learning Centre
Hoofbeats & Heartbeats
The monthly newsletter for the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre
First issue 
December 2009
In This Issue
Feature Article
Highlights from 2009
Plans for 2010
Lesson Program News
Equine Canada Rider Level Testing
Can You Help Us?
Feature Article
Report on the Redevelopment of the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre

WELCA is developing a Detailed Business Case to support redevelopment of our existing indoor Riding Arena and attached stables and barn.  The replacement of these facilities is long overdue based on a City of Edmonton facility evaluation report.

The Need

The program requirements of the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association (LBTRA) and our programs and services are not being met by existing facilities.  The arena is in poor shape and difficult to use in winter; the demand for programs exceeds the arena time available.

The Proposal

Both Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association and LBTRA Boards support the proposal to replace the existing arena, barn and administration trailer with a new development comprising:

  •  Two regulation sized; climate controlled indoor riding arenas

  • Stables and barn to accommodate 55 horses

  •  Administration and support facilities including indoor toilets, classrooms, meeting areas and others

The Process

A Preliminary Business Case was accepted by the City of Edmonton which then agreed to proceed with the development of a Detailed Business Case.  Work on the Detailed Business Case started in late summer and is scheduled to be completed early in 2010.  This work is being carried out by a consultant with input from WELCA and LBTRA staff as well as representatives from the WELCA membership, Edmonton Hunter Jumpers Association, Edmonton Dressage Association, Boarders, other regional associations and the City Parks Department.

The completed Business Case will be forwarded to the City for review and hopefully approval at which time a Capital Fundraising Program will be initiated. 

After fundraising activities are underway, it is expected that design activities will commence with a target construction start of 2011-2012.

Progress to Date

The following key activities have been carried out:

  • Preliminary Business Case approved in 2009

  • Detailed Business Case started in September 2009  Projected space requirements identified

  • Functional Program documentation underway

  • Two sets of meetings held with stakeholders to discuss future space and space relationships (stakeholders include WELCA and LBTRA staff; representatives from Hunters and Jumpers and Dressage; NAIT; WELCA Members including Boarders, Students and Volunteers; City Parks Department) 

  • Preliminary building organization options identified

  • Site planning has started with options available for viewing at WELCA.

Dear WELCA Member, 

Another year has flown by and we are ready to try publishing a newsletter again!  This time, a team of volunteers are working with me to ensure that news is gathered and photos taken so our chances of success are so much better!  Thanks to Sheila Edmonds and Jane Sims for agreeing to work on this project.  If anyone else is interested in helping out or submitting news and photos, please don't hesitate to jump on board.  You can call me at 780-435-3597 or email me at diane.david@whitemudequine.org  I would love to hear from you.
Diane David
Whitemud Equine Learning Centre
Highlights from 2009
Programs, Renovations, Shows and EventsHighlights from 2009
New Programs:
  • St. James School started an 8-week Horse Experience program for each of their Grade 4, 5, and 6 classes.  Thirty-five Grade 6 students visited the stable every Friday for 8 weeks in September and October.  Grade 4&5 students will have their turn in the spring.
  • Moms & Tots got rolling in December.
  • A Day Camp for Intermediate Riders ran for one week this summer and will run again December 27-31.  Led by the indomitable Christine Wills, campers combine yoga and fitness with riding and learning about the ins and outs of horse ownership.

Keillor Cabin Renovations:
Thanks to a Community Facilities Enhancement Grant from Alberta Community Development and matching funds from our casinos, the Board of Directors were able to invest $38,000 in renovating Keillor Cabin.  The renovations, which included a new kitchen with upgraded plumbing and electrical work, hardwood refinishing throughout, and all the interior painted, will protect the cabin from further deterioration and allow us to rent it for meetings and small events.
Shows and Special Events:
One of WELCA's goals has been to diversify the kinds of events held at the show grounds.  We took a few steps towards that goal this past year:
  • Corporate Challenge Bunnock Tournament in May
  • Little Bits Fundraiser in June
  • Annual River Valley Horse Show in July
  • Private Wedding functions in August
  • Heavy Weight Entertainment Halloween Party in October
Big Plans for 2010
Looking Ahead to the New Year
Plans for 2010WELCA management and staff plan to continue to build upon our established programs and services, introducing another day camp at Spring Break, more day time group lessons for adults, and expanding equicizer programming for fitness and technique improvement. Of course, our primary focus continues to be the Centre's long awaited redevelopment project (see our feature story) and taking the necessary steps to ensure that the City of Edmonton supports our plans for the future.
Upcoming Shows & Events:
Edmonton's Premier Horse Show returns to the Whitemud Equine Centre! After seven years at Northlands, the Edmonton Hunter Jumper Association is moving their 2010 show back to the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre. The 2010 show will be renamed the Edmonton Classic Horse Show and will remain a free event for all spectators to enjoy.
Continuing as a Gold-rated Equine Canada Show, which has previously attracted Olympic rider Ian Millar, equestrians will compete for the prestigious ATCO Cup, the National Bank Financial Trophy and their share of one of the largest prize pools in Alberta.
The 2010 Edmonton Classic Horse Show will be held May 26 - 30th, 2010.  Bring your picnic blanket back to the traditional home of Edmonton show jumping!

New Website in the Works:
We're working with Marilyn Jones of RiverCity Productions to design, write and distribute a new electronic newsletter along with a new website. You're reading our first issue of our enewsletter. Watch for news about the launch of our new website on January 15, 2010, in our next issue.
Lesson Program News
About our Fall 2009 Season

We had a busy fall in the Lesson Programs. The majority of our classes are full and we still have a long waiting list. 
  • We didn't plan to hold the Student Christmas Party on the coldest day of the year - it just worked out that way!  The few hardy souls that braved the bitter weather were rewarded with rides on the equicizers and games in the arena.  Thanks to everyone who came and brought potluck dishes to share!
  • In December, we introduced a Mom & Tot Program for young children, ages 2 to 5.  While the parents are riding, the children spend time doing horse-related crafts and activities with our child care leader.  For the final 15 minutes of each class, parents hand-lead the children's pony ride.  We will continue to run the classes throughout January and February.  The cost is $100 per month - classes are Fridays from 9:15-11:15am.
  • Lesson programs will begin again starting January 2.  See you in 2010!
    Many thanks to all of our volunteers, parents and family members who support our riders throughout the year.  - Lynda Tennessen, instructors and teaching assistants.
  • Congratulations to instructor Danielle and her husband Merle on the Halloween birth of their son, Tyler.  We're looking forward to having them in for a visit once the weather is warmer.
Sporty & Pokey Join the Herd!
On November 13th, we welcomed two very special additions to our lesson herd.  Alberta Sport and Pokey are equicizers, beautifully hand-crafted non-motorized mechanical horses that simulate a real horse's movement. The equicizers allow riders to exercise, stretch, practice technique, improve body posture, positioning, fitness and confidence in a safe controlled manner.  Whitemud Equine Learning Centre was able to purchase the two equicizers through the generous support of the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation.  Sporty and Pokey are already hard at work teaching the beginners in our Learn to Ride program and being used in warm-ups for our advanced students.
Equine Canada Rider Level Testing
Rider Level Training Standards
The riding lesson programs at Whitemud Equine Learning Centre follow the same rider level training program set out by Equine Canada.
All of WELCA's instructors are either certified by Equine Canada or working on their certification through rider level testing and related courses/clinics.  This is the same rider level training we are offering to WELCA riders.  It covers three sections:  riding, theory and stable management.  This training gives students greater understanding of the horse's nature in handling on the ground, riding and daily needs. The Equine Canada Rider Manuals are a great way to supplement the hands-on learning that happens on the horse and in the barn.
Volunteer Profile
Sheila Edmonds
Sheila has generously volunteered her time at the WELC for the past 12 years. When asked why she replied that she values the Equine Centre for aesthetic equity and unique recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities. She admires the dedicated and tough staff who provide exceptional experiences in a most difficult  working environment.  She wants to see permanent buildings with kitchen and indoor washrooms and insulated arenas.

Sheila first contacted Little Bits in 1976 while doing University research on Therapeutic Riding programs in Canada, USA and England. Her first visit to Whitemud was to watch a horse show from the grass berms.  With her husband Bob, she played for Whitemud's baseball team, "The Animals".  Here's a list of some her accomplishments as one of WELCA's many dedicated volunteers:
  • Researching Whitemud's history, creating 8' X 3' portable history banners, and photo displays.
  • Writing the Community Facility Enhancement Grant and receiving $125,000.00 to restore the log cabin to community use, to upgrade the show grounds, build a new judging stand and pay for the Environmental Impact Assessment for the new facility.
  • Opening the Log Cabin to the community on Remembrance Day, Valentine's Day and Father's Day.  Over 600 visitors toured the heritage cabin and learned about WELCA.
In addition to all her efforts on behalf of the WELCA, she raised four children and just recently became a new grandma. Thank you Sheila for all you do for us at WECL.
Lesson Horse Profile
This lesson horse is every little girl's dream.  She's kind, gentle, smooth to ride and knows how to walk, trot, canter and jump.  She is excellent with nervous riders and gives them confidence. Even though her coat looks white, Snowball is actually a grey mare.  She is about 13 hands high which makes her a pony. She has been in lessons for a very long time and knows her job very well.  In fact, since Czar retired last year, Snowball has the most seniority of any horse - over 15 years.
Snowball works full-time for Little Bits when they are in session and also teaches beginner riders in our lesson programs.
If you watch her eyes closely you can see that Snowball often has a little nap when she is standing still.  
Sharon Merckel-Beattie
The Edmonton Area Alberta Dressage Association is hosting a fundraiser at Whitemud for Sharon Merckel-Beattie as she begins her bid for a spot at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. 

The fundraiser will be held from 2-4pm, Sunday, January 24 at Whitemud Equine Learning Centre and will feature a demonstration and presentation by Sharon.

For more information, contact Jane Haslett at (780)-439-1574 or Donna Tribe at (780)-465-6673.
About Us

Our Vision: The Whitemud Equine Learning Centre is a cherished asset for our city; environmentally sustainable and community-enhancing, an unparalleled equine learning centre that is a landmark and a source of pride for all who use it.

Our Mission:  To create a centre of excellence in equine learning, therapy, recreation, research and sport that supports a growing equine industry and the growing demand for equine programs

Mark your calendar! Please join us and be a supporter of the First Annual Little Bits 'n Bites Breakfast Round-up taking place at 7:30am, March 23rd, 2010 at Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Edmonton. This fund raising breakfast is the first event of our 35th Anniversary celebrations. We hope 2010 will be the year we build greater awareness of Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association in the community. Our goal is to develop sustaining donors and sponsors in this generous City. We also hope to raise money to enhance our programs, purchase new specialized equipment and reduce the waiting list of riders wanting to ride in our therapeutic program. We have helped over 2500 children and adults with disabilities in the Edmonton area in our 35 year history.
The breakfast event will feature Marie Stelmach as patron and guest of honour. We hope to have a short program which will emphasize the benefits of therapeutic riding and how our specialized program has positively impacted lives of those with disabilities.
Please contact Michael Kroll at the Little Bits office (780-235-1504 - cell or mkroll@telus.net) to purchase tickets to the event. Tickets are $25 or tables of 8 for $200, which includes a delicious hot breakfast at a first class facility. Bring your friends and family, we are confident it will be fun. Your support will ensure it is a success for Little Bits!