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Hoof and Hike Blazes the Trail for Fundraising into 2024

By February 1, 2024News

True horsepower becomes known at Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC), a facility located in Southwest Florida. Here, horses of all sizes, breeds, and backgrounds help individuals find pathways to gain strength, confidence, mobility, and skills that incrementally improve their daily lives. The center’s mission is “To improve the lives of children and adults with physical, social, and mental health needs through therapeutic riding and other equine-related programs.” Participants, volunteers, and staff form relationships with the horses, making these programs possible and creating unimaginable bonds.

Instead of being viewed as just animals, horses at NTRC are considered equal partners that facilitate therapeutic services. The career title of Therapy Horse balances hard, taxing work with a life overflowing with respecting love. Just as a valued employee receives excellent benefits, the therapy horses receive the best care from veterinarians, chiropractors, farriers, nutritionists, and other equine professionals at NTRC.

When a horse’s time of service at NTRC begins to wane, a special decision is made. A committee reminisces on years of selfless, dedicated service before all speaking in agreement. For those who have significantly impacted lives, retirement in fields reminiscent of old Western films is part of their benefit package. Plains for miles house the horses who once exemplified the title of therapy horse. The facility offering this service is named Camp Rusk.

Camp Rusk is a 400-acre facility in Texas that specializes in equine retirement. After settling into Camp Rusk, horses are introduced into a herd band, where they will adjust to an instinctive way of life. Here, horses roam freely in herd settings, exploring new terrains with bountiful food sources. The organization’s staff monitors the herds and sends photographs with written updates to each previous “owner.” Camp Rusk gives earlier connections to the horses at its facility, giving them peace of mind knowing that their horse is being watched after in an environment that only so few are lucky to experience in this modern world. And to relate to employment again, this retirement account requires monthly draws. To provide such an exceptional option for a horse’s later-year care, Camp Rusk charges $300.00 monthly to oversee the horse’s care.

Currently, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center provides for five previous equine partners of the organization: Tiger, Bear, Bella, Snickers, and Pablo. An expense of $1,500.00 monthly for this service quickly adds up to $18,o00.00 over twelve months. Over the next year, this well-worth expense is expected to raise over $25,000.00 as more horses are in conversation for retirement. To help alleviate the cost to the organization, the Annual Hoof and Hike Fundraiser is dedicated to raising funds that benefit these horses directly.

The Hoof and Hike is spearheaded by lead instructor Lea Haven, who has been with NTRC for over twenty years. This poker-run style event is held each January at the Picayune Strand State Forrest, where participants can choose to walk on foot or ride a horse through a series of trails, collecting playing cards along the way. The event’s winners, determined by the top three poker hands, receive cash prizes. In addition to the excitement of trail venturing, participants can shop the tack swap stand, purchase event shirts, take a chance on raffle items, and enjoy lunch provided by Zookies.

Hoof and Hike is an opportunity to connect equine enthusiasts in the community. Barns from the Southwest Florida region load up trailers of horses for this fun, adventure-packed day event. Even those passionate about horses who do not have one participate by bringing their friends or dogs along for the trail walk.

The weather was far from cooperative for this year’s event. However, that did not keep supporters of NTRC from attending. The 2024 Hoof and Hike raised over $25,000.00, helping to cover all costs associated with the retired horses for this upcoming year. NTRC is grateful for the volunteers and participants who made this fundraiser possible.

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center encourages you to save the date and participate in the following upcoming events:

Bridled Breath Yoga Fundraiser- February 28, 2024
Kentucky Derby Party- May 4, 2024
Bootstrap Boogie Barn Dance- November 9, 2024
Hoof and Hike- January 19, 2025

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center would also like to thank each event Sponsor for helping make the Hoof and Hike a great success:
Lake View Trails- Dick and Wilma Proctor
Breezy Acres- Gary and Sandi Yates
Freedom Rider Tack Shop
Gulf Shore Restorations, LLC
Associated Contracted Inc.
Pancreatic Nutritional Program
Magic Touch Painting, Inc.
North Dallas Equestrian
Emergency Pet Hospital of Collier County
The Wishing Well Farm
McNamara Legal Services P.A.
Haven Builders
1st Choice Hurricane Protection, LLC
Buddha Voodoo Yoga
The Rusty Daisy Ranch
Floor Meisters
Summerfields Interior Design
Thomas Lawrence Building Contractor
Kristi McGuire
Karen and Gary Conley
Dr. Bill and Mary Lou Swartz
Sue Lotteridge
Morningstar Stables
Deanna Dhyne
Greg Westgate Painting
Ross Design Associates, Inc.
Sutherland General Store
Julie McFalls
The Treglone Family
The Piron Family
Premiere Plus Realty Co.
Mark Halcrow
Home & Condo Design Solutions
Susie Newlon
Shari Marvel

Author Christian Vanorsdale

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