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Donation to allow for construction of 33,000 square-foot equestrian center at the lake

DAN FIELD
As Forget Me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary has grown, new facilities have been added including a tack shop that houses a variety of equine products for sale. The items have been donated.

Sharing is caring.

That’s a slogan heard often, but in the case of a recent anonymous donation to Forget Me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary the mantra goes far beyond the type of caring and sharing that volunteers ever imagined.

The donation will allow for the construction of a 33,000-square-foot equestrian center that will expand the mission of the horse sanctuary to include equine services for challenged youth and adults. At the same time, Forget Me Not is rebranding itself to encompass the new direction.

Unbridled Equestrian Center should be open about the first of the year, with construction starting any day. Hope Rides On is the name of the concept designed for challenged youth and adults.

FMN owner and founder Connie Hendrix is quick to note that the mission of Forget Me Not as a horse rescue facility will continue. The facility, officially in its ninth year as a 501(c)3 non-profit, will continue to accept horses that have been abandoned, abused, injured or have experienced untold circumstances.

It’s just that the recent donation allows them to follow a dream that Hendrix and co-manager and best friend Donna Ogle have had for a long time – develop an indoor center to assist in teaching challenged youth and adults how to ride, and to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of horses.

The Equestrian Center, designed and being built by Thomas Construction of Osage Beach, will also double as a facility to accept the abandoned, abuse and injured horses that routinely come to Forget Me Not to live out their lives at the loving hands of Hendrix, Ogle, the board of directors and volunteers who help with day-to-day chores.

Forget Me Not was started more than a decade ago by Hendrix and her late husband, Bob, with a dozen horses after word spread that a quality and caring rescue facility had opened near Linn Creek. Today, as a non-profit staffed by volunteers, Forget Me Not is home to 144 horses that have been rehabbed, adopted or given a permanent loving home.

The new facility is located not far from A Road. An easy-access overhead door leads to a series of stalls with adjacent turnouts that lead to the 100x170-foot foot arena that features a sand mix of arena footing material.

Indoor features include:

•Rubber floor pavers in several areas for the comfort of horses, visitors and volunteers.

•A state-of-the-art sling room to assist in the unloading and placement of injured or challenged horses.

•Treatment stalls with horse stocks to provide medical care.

•17 stalls with private runs

•9 portable stalls for overflow

•Overhead doors for easy access for trailers, trucks and equipment

•Auto sprinklers to help keep dust to a minimum

•A temperature-controlled reception area that opens to a glassed area overlooking the arena.

•A conference room and dining area for fundraisers and other events

•Administrative offices, a mudroom, showers for volunteers and three bathrooms

Thankful

Both Hendrix and Ogle are thankful for the compassion of the donor. Not only did the individual provide funds for the center, they also donated funds last year for a 60x80 hay barn and to help purchase land for expansion of Forget Me Not.

“The donor just wanted to do something good for the Lake community,” Ogle said.

Forget-Me-Not has survived on donations and volunteer help. The only paid position is that of Ogle whose salary is paid by another caring individual in the Lake community.

“One-hundred percent of the donations will continue to go to the horses,” Hendrix pointed out.

An open house is planned shortly after the facility opens.

To learn more about Forget Me Not, go towww.missouriforgetmenot.org or call 573-216-3838.