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 by Frank Shortt
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A Memorable Trip
        On the Fourteenth of September, my wife Sharon and I celebrated 50 years of marriage. Yes, all 50 to the same person, believe it or not! We had never taken an official honeymoon, so we decided to join a tour of upstate New York which would eventually end up at Niagara Falls.
        When we were first married I was a lowly G.I. in Uncle Sam’s Air Force. Our ‘honeymoon’ was spent in a one bedroom apartment at 18th and N. Streets in Sacramento, California. We did not mind the cramped conditions as we were very young and very much in love. We did not mind the fact that one had to sit sideways in order to use the tiny bathroom facilities. We did not even mind the small kitchenette with just enough room for a wee, four-chaired dinette. When we had company some of us had to use t.v. trays and eat in the cramped living area. If Sharon had not worked we would have probably not been able to afford some of the things that young married couples have need of. This story is not about me.
        We began our trip to New York on the Seventh of September. We visited a lot of places in the week we spent there. I will not go into detail about most of the places but just to mention a few: a Mennonite farm, a modern dairy farm, an Amish farm, an alpaca farm, the Lucille Ball Museum in Jamestown, the Women’s rights Museum in Seneca Falls, New York, etc. The most outstanding and practical stop we made was the EquiCenter, Inc. in Mendon, New York located on the William and Mildred Levine ranch. The EquiCenter is therapeutic program helping people with disabilities, at-risk youth, and Veterans and their families deal with physical, mental and emotional challenges.
        As our tour bus entered the grounds of the EquiCenter, one just knew by the well-groomed grounds that we were to be treated to something extraordinary. We were met by well-trained staff which was able to steer us through the facilities, answering any questions we might have. I was intrigued by the Veterans program that they provided. Eventually, we were met by the founder, Jonathan Friedlander, an unpresumptuous, energetic young man whose whole life seemingly revolves around his work at EquiCenter.
        Jonathan explained to us that, “when my wife, Stacy, and I began the work in 2004, the facilities we had were insufficient for the long term plans we had envisioned. We had talked to the owner of what was then Langpap Stable about maybe selling this large farm for our purpose but he told us that this was not in his future plans. Not long afterward he sent us word that he would like to talk to us about allowing us to purchase his property. We were stunned!”
        “In 2010, with the support of the William and Mildred Levine Foundation, we were able to move to our present facilities which we named in the Levine’s honor, Jonathan continued. We were able to move right in as the ranch was already used for raising horses.”
EquiCenter: Where Horses Help Heal Body, Mind and Spirit
        From the EquiCenter’s early days in its first facility, (purchased with the help of the Daisy Marquis Jones foundation) to its 2010 move to the magnificent William and Mildred Levine Ranch the staff, volunteers and healing horses have given their all: helping hundreds of children and adults with physical, intellectual and emotional challenges find the strength and courage to reach their fullest potential.
1, 2, 3…. Walk On
        Jonathan explained: “At the start of each riding lesson … when the rider is securely mounted and the horse leader and side walkers are in place …. all are ready for the words
which tell the horse it’s time to move. At the instructor’s signal, the team begins
the countdown: “one, two, three” …and then pauses for the rider to give the final command: “Walk On”.
        Some participants shout it with glee; while others, challenged by disabilities which compromise their understanding or speech, say or signal it as best they can. Regardless, the joy is universal as the team – both human and equine –moves forward, taking new steps on the student’s life-changing path. A similar countdown represents the EquiCenter’s progress … with measured steps, great enthusiasm, and a clear path forward!”

        A great idea only comes along once in a great while. EquiCenter is definitely one great idea. I wish Jonathan and Stacy many happy returns on the time and energy they have invested in such a worthy cause. I must say that this was ‘One Memorable Trip”!
        Anyone wishing to contact Equi-Center may do so by calling Jonathan Friedlander at (585)624-7772. Their Website is www.EquiCenterny.org.
These photos show the mounting, feeding and rapport of clients and horses.

Here are two photos relating to the veterans program.