For Freedom Riders, Maine’s longest-running therapeutic horseback riding program, 2010 will be its last season. Since 1984, Freedom Riders has served individuals in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties with physical, mental or emotional challenges. Freedom Riders’ mission was providing educational and therapeutic programs to children and adults through equine-assisted activities and therapies.

The continued weakness in the economy has resulted in a sharp decrease in donations from both individuals and foundations. Given the reality of this shrinking funding, the organization is unable to cover its increasing operating costs and maintain the high standards on which its reputation was built.

Throughout its long history, the organization has been supported by hundreds of tireless volunteers who gave their time week after week to make sure the horses were ready and the students would be able to ride. Just as important were the individuals, local businesses, and service organizations and foundations that have generously supported the Freedom Riders program. The other cornerstone of Freedom Riders was the therapy horses. They were intelligent, patient, loving friends who brought much joy to their riders.

The program staff are deeply grateful to all who have helped so many people reach their potential for all these years. It is with the deepest regret that the board of directors had to make this decision. While the program season has ended, the work of the staff continues as they move forward with the necessary agenda of dissolving the nonprofit. Freedom Riders’ office is at 21 Limerock St, S203, Rockland, ME 04841. Any questions can be directed to Martha Bouchard, chair/board of directors, at 596-5732.