Cowgirl Ball kicks up heels
Benefit party held for SETCH
By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer
Shake off those sparkly boots and come on
down to the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for its 13th annual benefit party,
Wednesday, July 14, at the Sagebrush Arena. This year’s theme is "Rhinestone
The ball begins at 6 p.m. for
complimentary spirits and a silent auction. At 7:15 p.m. there is an Idaho rack
of lamb dinner, presentation and live auction. Dancing to the Kenny Bradberry
Band continues through the evening.
The proceeds will fund the Sagebrush
Equine Center for the Handicapped. Kristy Pigeon, who trained at the National
Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy in Woodside, Calif., founded the Wood
River Valley program in 1991.
"My goal was to start a therapeutic riding
program here," Pigeon said. A nonprofit organization, SETCH serves children and
adults with disabilities by providing a unique form of therapy and recreation
through the use of the horse. Along with certified therapeutic riding
instructors Lisa Scales and Wendy Collins, the program relies heavily on the
help of more than 60 volunteers.
The concept is born of the natural and
enjoyable environment that riding horses can provide. The horse’s gait mimics a
person's walking gait and sense of movement. As the horse adjusts, so must the
rider. In this way, riding increases muscular strength, improves posture,
balance, coordination, sensory integration, and mental stamina, Pigeon said.
With greater freedom of movement comes an increase in self-esteem, confidence,
personal mobility and independence.
Emma Cochran, 3, of Hailey, was born on
Sept. 11, 2001. She was diagnosed with Larsen Syndrome, a rare genetic disease
characterized by multiple dislocations of the major joints. In Emma’s case,
doctors doubted she would ever walk at all. However, with much parental support,
she began riding in the SETCH program when she was just 2 years old. Her father,
Sam Cochran said he and his wife, Maria, weren’t expecting much. But over the
course of the year their minds have been happily changed. At first she was like
a sack of potatoes on horseback, slumped over and unresponsive, Cochran
recalled. A year later, she is able to move around on her own with a walker and
holds herself upright.
"It’s therapeutic and she’s having fun,"
he marveled as he watched her riding around at Sagebrush’s outdoor arena, a huge
grin on her face. She was accompanied on each side of the horse by riding
instructor Scales and her therapist John Vladimiroff.
Emma rides with Scales twice a week, while
Vladimiroff comes once a week. She rides both facing front and back. Cochran
also said Emma’s cognitive abilities have also improved since beginning to ride.
The idea was a bit of a lark in the beginning, he admitted but after seeing the
changes occur he is sold on the program.
"She screams when we drive up to Sagebrush
she’s so excited," he said.
Emma is one of nearly 300 people who come
through SETCH annually, Pigeon said. This includes the campers at Camp Rainbow
Gold, a camp north of Ketchum for children with cancer. There are also kids’
work programs, an at-risk youth program and the Special Olympics team.
Pigeon is especially proud of their Saddle
Design Program, which constructs specialized saddles for people with
"We are the forerunner in this kind of
work. The goal for challenged individuals is to ride independently and also
participate on trail rides. A trail ride is a huge accomplishment that carries
over into their lives, the ability to take risk and try new things. The goal is
to help people live more independent lives: whatever the individual plan is
that’s our objective.
"We have another rehabilitation program
for children who are suffering from or recovering from side effects of brain
"Children’s brain tumors usually are
primary tumors they were born with," she explained. Since a child’s brain is
still developing it can compensate by making new passageways in ways an adult’s
"Horse therapy is the perfect adjunct to
traditional therapy simply because it’s an outdoor environment and many children
have motor impairments. One of the issues that can be improved is fine and gross
motor control. We also have quite a few women with head injuries and multiple
The annual fundraising event helps with
all these programs and raises essential awareness. For more information or for
tickets call 578-9111.