Heavenly Gaits plans new trails in memory of young rider

Heavenly Gaits Therapeutic Riding Center of Knox is creating new horse-riding trails to honor a young girl who died of a rare disability.

Construction will begin on sensory trails in honor of Zo Ruth at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, at the riding center.

Zo was a young girl who loved many things in life but most of all she loved riding horses. She spent a lot of time riding at Heavenly Gaits and took part in several of the camps and activities there.

Zo suddenly passed away in January at the age of 15 of a rare disability. She displayed no signs of being ill in the time leading up to her death, a Heavenly Gaits employee said.

Zo’s short life impacted many and the organization wants to help further her legacy.

Her family has set up memorial funds in their daughter’s name, and funds have been allotted to help create the sensory trails in her memory.

Heavenly Gaits executive director Monique Nellis said the trails are being made possible by a $2,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation. The grant will allow work to begin on the trails but won’t be enough to finish the project, Nellis said.

Many things are still needed to help construct the trail.

“We need a variety of things – sensory boxes, bird houses, animal decoys and lumber to make the fence,” Nellis said.

In addition, the Home Depot Foundation will send volunteers to help for the day.

The trails that are planned will have a lasting impact on riders for many years to come, Nellis said.

Nellis said Zo was a big part of the Heavenly Gaits family.

“She touched our riders and volunteers deeply. We wanted to do what we could to keep her memory alive,” Nellis said.

The construction will begin in the morning and last most of the day, and volunteers are welcome to come help.

For more information on how to help or for a list of needed donations, visit heavenlygaitstrc.weebly.com or email Nellis at heavenlygaitstrc@gmail.com