National Ability Center to throw its fourth-annual Barn Party |

National Ability Center to throw its fourth-annual Barn Party

The National Ability Center, that provides recreational opportunities for people of all abilities, hosted its first Barn Party four years ago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its equestrian program, which uses horses as physical and psychological therapy for children and adults who have disabilities.

"We started the Barn Party in order to show the community how much we care about the support they have given us over the years," said NAC’s barn manager Jan Drake. "It was a family-friendly, low-cost event, which is also a fundraiser for the NAC."

The tradition will continue on Saturday, June 6, when the center, 1000 Ability Way, at Quinn’s Junction, will host its fourth Barn Party, from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

The evening will feature games, a bounce house, a mechanical bull, a silent auction and a barbecue, provided by Bandits Bar and Grill.

"The community, especially the equestrian community, has been so generous to the NAC, with the donation of horses and volunteer hours and this is good way for us to give back a little," Drake said.

Rider demonstrations will be presented so the children who have participated in the horse therapy program can show off the skills they’ve learned throughout the sessions.

"The horses have helped in many ways during therapeutic riding by showing the kids how the hip rotates, which is very close to how a human hip rotates, to giving the kids an idea of how to move," Drake explained. "We’ve had kids actually take their first steps after working with a horse and one of our therapists in our hippotherapy program."

The horses also help children who have been diagnosed with autism.

"Those kids live within their own world, but when they come in contact with a horse, it kind of opens a part of their lives," Drake said. "They learn they can communicate with the horse and feel safe.

"There is one young lady who is autistic and worked with one of our horses, and the experience gave her the confidence to go out and get her driver’s license," she said. "To see the growth these kids make through the program is phenomenal and we see these little miracles all the time."

The miracles just don’t involve children and youth, but also members of the military who have returned wounded from their tours of duties.

"The horse gives a true, unmasked feeling to the participants who come in and work in groups on a specific task that involves the horse," Drake said. "At the end of the two-hour session, the difference you can see in the attitude of some of these military personnel is phenomenal.

"The sessions give them the ability to reach deeper into themselves and, whether they are suffering from an injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, they can find a way to live a some sort of a normal life," she said. "The horse is a 1,000-pound animal and these military personnel get a true emotional feedback from the horse. communicating with this big animal, they can find ways of communicating with others."

Rena Webb, director of communications, at the NAC, said this year’s Barn Party will also feature line dancing and a silent auction.

"We’ll have an instructor out there who will teach the dances, and the silent auction will include items from Park City Balloon Adventures and a VIP weekend package from the Stein Eriksen Lodge," she said. "The Barn Party is a fun thing and is ideal for people who are looking for something to do with their kids. This is a great way to see what’s happening in Park City."

The National Ability Center’s Fourth Annual Barn Party will be held Saturday, June 9, from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., at the NAC, 1000 Ability Way at Quinn’s Junction. Adult tickets are $40 in advance and $50 after June 7. Youth tickets are $20 in advance and $25 after June 7. Kids younger than 10 will be admitted for free. Tickets can be purchased online at, or by phone at (435) 649-3991.


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