30 Things you need to know about WELCA

1)     The City of Edmonton leases the land to WELCA for $1/year to run a community horse stable/urban farm. In accordance with the lease, WELCA also pays a monthly fee to the City for the upkeep of the new riding arena facility.

2)     WELCA has operated the stable since 1998.

3)     The Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Program for persons with disabilities (LBTRA) has operated out of this location since 1976.

4)     In 2013, WELCA had 947 people participating in riding and equine-centered programs.

5)     Participants range from two years old to 65+


6)    95% of participants do not own a horse

7)    40% of participants have special needs

8)     In 2014, WELCA’s Herd and Lessons Manager won Equine Canada’s first-ever Horse Health and Welfare Stewardship Award.  The award recognizes an individual who has on a single occasion or multiple occasions demonstrated exceptional compassion for a horse at a grassroots level.


9)     WELCA’s Executive Director has been twice nominated for the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Service for persons with disabilities and in 2013 was presented with the first-ever Opus Award from the Gateway Association for adults with developmental disabilities in recognition of WELCA’s role in the transformation of a person who lives with an intellectual disability through meaningful, inclusive employment.

10) WELCA is open to the public 16 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks of the year.

11) There is no admission fee to visit the stable. The stable connects directly to the river valley trail system.

12) Five full-time and two part-time paid staff look after the 60+ livestock on site.

13) Dedicated horsemen and women provide the programs offered at WELCA including: riding lessons, horse care, work experience, field trips and tours, school programs including testing for Alberta Agriculture Green Certificate, public holiday activities, and summer camps.


14) For every 1 hour of paid work, program personnel contribute 2-3 hours in volunteer time.

15)  The ratio of WELCA instructors to student is 1:6 in the riding arena.  The ratio is 2:6 in the tacking and grooming stalls.

16) The ratio of LBTRA instructors to student is 1:5 in the riding arena.

17) The ratio of volunteers to each rider with disabilities is 3:1.

18) According to the City of Edmonton Transportation Department, 55,000 vehicles per day drive past WELCA on Fox Drive.

19) WELCA provides a central horse show venue for local, regional and provincial competitions that offer exciting equestrian performances free for the public to watch and experience.

20) WELCA is responsible for maintaining and operating the 48-acre site including livestock husbandry, pastures, buildings, roads and lanes, four outdoor riding rings, two grass riding rings, show grounds and heritage houses.

21) The stable is located in the heart of the river valley park system on the south side of the river east of Fort Edmonton and west of the University of Alberta

22) The oldest building on the property is the Keillor Log Cabin which was built in 1919. The cabin has qualified for provincial historical designation as a unique example of “park-itecture.”


23) The now-demolished indoor riding arena was built in 1959 by Leo Lemieux, Cliff Ross and Bill Collins when it was known as LeeColl Stables.

24) As early as 1995, the City of Edmonton was recommending that the old riding arena be replaced due to structural problems.


25) In 1978, Grant McEwan College ran its Equine Studies Program at the stables using a set of old ATCO trailers. 

26) In 2012, WELCA completed a telephone survey of 400 Edmontonians. 92% of respondents said that WELCA is vital or important to the community.

27) Olympian and world champion equestrians, Ian Millar, Gail Greenough and Mark Laskin have competed at horse shows at WELCA.

28) The Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Indoor Riding Arena officially opened on October 21, 2017. The project was jointly funded by the City of Edmonton and WELCA.


29) For it's contribution to the project, WELCA has a $2.5 million loan from the Edmonton Social Enterprise Fund.


30) The old arena and some of WELCA's lesson horses are featured in the Niobe Thompson documentary, "Equus Story of the Horse" a three-part series on CBC TV Nature of Things.