Foothill therapy horse nonprofit significant |

Foothill therapy horse nonprofit significant

Supporters of a Foothill therapy horse nonprofit packed the chambers for Tuesday’s Douglas County Planning Commission meeting.

Between Horses and Humans was found to be a use of community significance and received a special use permit.

The charity has been hosted on Maddi’s Friesian Ranch on Old Foothill Road since 2013.

Ruth Page, the ranch’s current owner, purchased the property in 2007. Before Page bought the property it had a home occupation permit to allow up to 40 horses and boarders to visit the property and ride, according to Douglas County Senior Planner Heather Anderson.

The property owner and Barbara Slade, president of the organization, said they believe the use would be covered by a home occupation permit approved for the boarding operation in 2002, Anderson said.

She said the program hosts 20 students during weekdays and another 30 on Saturday.

Slade said the program uses horses to help children become more confident.

“We are working with children who need more help with their self-esteem,”

Douglas County has recognized the program with two grants in two years.

“We have served hundreds and hundreds of children over the years,” Slade said. “We now work with 50 students a week.”

She said that while the organization has the money to pay for the permit, she suggested that the county have a specific scale for nonprofits.

“Most of the children and young adults participating in the courses offered through Between Horses and Humans are referred to the program through organizations like CASA, Department of Child and Family Services, school counselors, teachers and licensed therapist,” Slade said in a letter to the planning commission. “Some of these children are at risk of not completing school, and not becoming functioning members of society.”

The program and ranch were required to obtain a permit after neighbor Ruth Robertson filed a complaint with the county code enforcement officer.

Robertson said she supports the program and believes in nonprofits, but is concerned about speeders on the private road at her house.

“I do believe this program does help,” she said. “They talk about leadership, awareness and sensitivity, but I don’t believe the parents are practicing.”

Community Development Director Mimi Moss said that the county couldn’t waive a requirement that the program have a paved handicapped spot, but could give them 180 days to complete the work.