BELLEVUE, Idaho — A Bellevue therapeutic equestrian center is raising funds in a virtual derby for the upkeep and care of their trained therapy horses.
Swiftsure Ranch is home to 18 therapy horses and costs approximately $4,000 a year to provide routine care for each one. The horses provide therapy to adults and children of all different types of abilities and diagnoses. Programs are designed to help empower them to gain strength and freedom through therapeutic equine connections.
Dusty Bugge, a longtime client of Swiftsure Ranch, comes to the stables often. She said she is always happy to ride her horse, Tony and refers to her horse as her new best friend.
“Horses are critical to what we do," said Paul Bennet, Swiftsure Ranch executive director. “The horses offer unbiased feedback."
As a non-profit, Swiftsure Ranch has had some difficulties fund raising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their horse derby is usually one of their biggest fundraisers. This year they are running it virtually, and all the money raised from the derby is used to keep their herd in tip-top shape
“This place is six degrees of everyone in this community,” said Leslie Benz, Swiftsure Ranch Board of Directors president. “It is hard to find anyone that lives here that doesn't know someone that Swiftsure hasn't touched.”
To participate in the derby, the community is invited to go to the Swiftsure Ranch website and donate for their favorite horse. At the end of the derby on May 1. All of those who donated to the most popular horse are entered into a drawing to win a free two-night stay at the 21C Museum Hotel in Lexington Kentucky, and a Churchill Downs Trifecta package.
“The horses carry an enormous weight,” said Bennet. “Everybody comes here with a challenge or a problem, and when they leave here hopefully they have left the problem with the horse. “