WILLOUGHBY -- Since the mid-1970s, the Andrews School for Girls has run a nationally-renowned equestrian program for its students and community members.

That continued when Andrews merged with a boys school to become the Andrews Osborne Academy.

The schools' board of directors says its making a painful and difficult decision to end the program and convert the complex into facilities for other sports, including soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball.

School Head Chuck Roman called the decision "difficult and emotional."

He says the program has been losing money consistently over the last six years.

That total loss comes to $1.6 million.

A group of equestrian program alumni is rallying, trying to save the program.

About a dozen of them showed up on short notice at the facility to talk with Channel 3 News about their efforts to save it.

Many of the women said the program taught them important life lessons and shaped their character in addition to teaching them to ride and care for horses.

Roxane Lawrence is a former director of the program.

She claims the school set the standard for other facilities and programs nationwide.

She says their is a sponsor willing to keep the program running for another two years, but she says the board was not allowed to hear that proposal.

She is hoping she and other concerned graduates can at least keep the conversation going and look for other possible alternatives.

The program's scheduled end date is June 30.