‘Saddle Up’ trail ride surpasses fundraising goal

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Lives are being changed, thanks to the therapeutic horsemanship program offered by Houston-based SIRE.

A recent event in Cat Spring, the 25th annual “Saddle Up for SIRE” trail ride raised a whopping $106,000, and proceeds will benefit operating expenses at SIRE’s three therapeutic riding centers, where clients with special needs ranging from Down Syndrome to post-traumatic stress disorder to brain injuries use horseback riding to increase strength, improve cognitive function and experience emotional healing.

K Leonard, who has volunteered with the SIRE program for more than 30 years, said a critical component of the ride’s fundraising success is an opportunity for people to donate online.

The top two SIRE Client Rider fundraisers who served as trail bosses for this year's ride were J. P. West and Nathaniel Hunter. The top “virtual rider” (someone who doesn't ride in the event but supports it through online fundraising efforts) was Jennifer Giddings. The top “bring your own horse” fundraiser was Julia Ingram.

“When you consider that more than 12 percent of the population in Texas has some type of special need, a program like this is so valuable,” Leonard said. “When you see the healing power of our horses, that’s where the magic really happens.”

The 2018 ride is set for Oct. 20 and will again be held at 7iL Ranch in Cat Spring. More information will be available on SIRE's website: sirehouston.org early next year.

If anyone is interested in volunteering to help organize next year's event or serving as a sponsor, they can contact ride chairman K Leonard at 281-460-6373.

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