Well, at least not for a virtual run for the roses… Here’s how a 5’8″ trail rider and a fellow “twenty-something” Thoroughbred/Arabian cross are combining forces to make a big impression for a big cause.
It’s official: I’m a jockey now. Except, just for a week… and it’s a race against my fellow jockeys who are also racing towards the virtual finish line – through fundraising! Everything is tax-deductible and your gift, no matter the size, will have an incredible impact! Here’s everything you need to know about HALTER’S “Fun for the Roses” Derby Week.
HALTER: Healing and Learning Through Equine Relationships
HALTER is an incredible therapeutic riding center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where I was fortunate enough to volunteer, intern and teach while in college. It’s a special place and they serve more than 125 children weekly with their even more special herd of horses. They serve local school programs, including the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind just next door, and are home to occupational, speech, and physical therapy programs in collaboration with the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. HALTER horses have also been used for unmounted counseling sessions and learning experiences – their impact is incredible!
Here’s a glimpse of the incredible horses, riders and volunteers I’ve known through HALTER, and why this work is so important:
“Fun for the Roses” Derby Week:
It’s a horse race! Seven pairs of “jockeys” and their HALTER horse teammates are “racing” to the finish line in hopes of raising the most amount of money possible between April 30th and May 5. The best part? the JM Smith Foundation is matching donations, so your gift is doubled! Plus, you can help me earn bonus bucks for HALTER just by having a long last name, or donating closest to the start, so stay tuned for new challenges each day! While I’d love to take home the roses at the end of the week, the overall goal is for the contest to raise *at least* $24,000 for HALTER! Let’s do it!
Bonus Bucks: Your gift of any amount can count for even more! Today’s challenges italicized.
- The jockey to get a donation closest to the start of the race, 12:00am midnight EST Monday, April 30, will get a $50 bonus.
- The first jockey to raise $1,000 in two or more donations gets a $100 bonus
- The jockey to raise the most money between 5pm and midnight on Monday gets a $100 bonus
- Monday: Each jockey who has a donor on Monday whose last name starts with D gets a $25 bonus
- Tuesday: Each jockey who has a donor on Tuesday whose last name starts with E gets a $25 bonus
- Wednesday: Each jockey who has a donor on Wednesday whose last name starts with R gets a $25 bonus
- Thursday: Each jockey who has a donor on Thursday whose last name starts with B gets a $25 bonus
- Friday: Each jockey who has a donor on Friday whose last name starts with Y gets a $50 bonus
- Each jockey who gets all DERBY names gets a $100 bonus
- Head to head challenge: on THURSDAY it’s businesswomen’s challenge! Winner gets $100 bonus. Sarah vs. Tracie vs. Susan
- The jockey who gets a donor with the longest last name will get a $10 bonus for every latter of the name. If there’s a tie, the name that begins with the letter closest to Z wins.
Drummer is at least 24, but he’s one of my favorite horses I’ve used in therapeutic riding lessons because he is incredibly perceptive and quiet, and can be used for anything from independent walk-trot lessons to lead-line lessons with the smallest riders. His height makes him ideal for older riders (and taller volunteers!) who are focusing on communication and riding skills more than balance and motor skills, but I adore his ability to make any rider feel safe and successful.
Riding Drummer gives students confidence, because his height can often be intimidating at first, but he is literally a gentle giant and always tries his best for each rider. He prefers quiet energy and a slow pace, and I’ve been able to use this to teach students about their own energy, behavior, and learning styles. He’s taught students how to overcome fear, how to slow themselves down, how to ride independently, and how to self-regulate their emotions. I love him to death and am so thrilled to be paired with him in this challenge!
Some personal Drummer stories:
One of my former students dealt with fear and timidity when transitioning to riding independently and her vision impairment heightened her uncertainty. “L” and Drummer were a perfect pair – his natural tendencies made him gentle enough to allow her to explore independence without feeling out of control, but his size and stride made her feel like she was really accomplishing something amazing – she was.
Later, when navigating walk-trot transitions and dealing with fear, Drummer taught her to relax and what tense energy is – sweet Drummer and brave L cantered several times unintentionally, and once she realized she could handle the extra speed, she eventually became a class leader at the walk and trot. By the time she graduated from HALTER I received a video of her trotting independently around the arena more confidently than ever.
Drummer would prefer to avoid any kind of pressure at all times, thank you very much – he gets along well with quiet souls and with subtle, slow cues. So what happens when your rider can’t use their legs to cue? It’s no problem for Drummer! I once watched a young student use tiny, almost imperceptible taps with his hand on Drummer’s shoulder to cue him to walk on – without any assistance at all from volunteers – and my jaw dropped while the student beamed as he struck up a careful, snappy walk. This was before I knew Drummer well – before I rode him and used him in classes – and I didn’t have to know him long before I absolutely loved him.
Here’s to my favorite big guy and a successful race next week – let’s race, and let’s raise as much as we can for a cause that will always and forever have my heart, whether I’m teaching or not.
*PS: Check or cash only kinda person? No worries! Contact me!