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NEWS

Feb. 6, 2007

RSU to Hold Dedication Ceremony for Equestrian Center March 1

A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Rogers State University Equestrian Center will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 1. The public is invited to attend.

The ceremony will be followed by guided tours of the new state-of-the-art facility, live demonstrations of various forms of equine care featuring several resident horses and a rustic chuck wagon lunch served indoors.

The new RSU Equestrian Center is located five miles south of Oologah and two miles north of Collinsville on U.S. Highway 169.

The Equestrian Center provides a new home for the Bit-by-Bit Therapeutic Horse Riding Program, a cooperative endeavor between RSU and the Oologah-Talala Public Schools> to promote physical and mental health for children and adults with disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding. The Bit-by-Bit program is the only 11 certified equine therapy centers in Oklahoma and the only such program directly affiliated with a university.

The highly regarded program provides riding sessions and other therapeutic interactions with the horses help improve balance, walking, language and cognitive skills for participating clients. The program serves more than 100 children and adults and has a waiting list for its services. During its history, the program has served more than 1,000 children and adults across Oklahoma.

The program also provides opportunities for RSU nursing and behavioral sciences students to gain hands-on experience in equine therapy for the disabled. In addition, the RSU Rodeo Club will utilize the new equestrian center to practice for intercollegiate rodeo competitions.

The new facility features an expanded indoor arena; an improved mounting area to assist clients in mounting a horse; a classroom with one-way observational viewing for parents and students; increased stall space and turn-out areas; storage and tack areas; administrative offices; a waiting area with two ADA-compliant restrooms; a covered portico providing easier access for clients; a residence for a full-time caretaker; and an outdoor arena.

The facility was funded by general university funds, bond funds and a $1 million capital campaign conducted by the RSU Foundation.

In 2004, the Frank and Wanda Sanders Family Trust donated more than 20 acres to serve as the new site of the Equestrian Center.

In 2005, the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation of Fayetteville, Ark., provided a gift of $375,000 to toward the completion of the facility and grounds. In addition to an interest in the university's equestrian facilities, the Walker family has a tie to RSU history. Johnny Mike Walker, the Walker's son, was a student in 1968-69 at the Oklahoma Military Academy, the predecessor institution of RSU. He is currently on the Walker Foundation board of directors along with his wife, Debbie, and mother, Pat.

For more information on the RSU Equestrian Center and the services it provides, call (918) 371-1750. For more information on the dedication ceremony, contact the RSU Office of Development at (918) 343-7773.