Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
They say something wonderful happens every day. July 17 was that day for many riders involved with Project ASTRIDE (Adapted Specialized Training and Recreation Involving Disabled Equestrians).
With the help of the MMSA (Minnesota Mounted Shooters Association) and Diane and Ernie Purcelli, Bison Meadows hosted the first WAHL Dare to Dream ride at its facility. A big thank you goes out to Kuka Quarter Horses, Purcelli's and MMSA families for hosting and coordinating this event. The weather was a bit on the cool side, 63 degrees for the high, but the hearts were warm. Ten riders from Project ASTRIDE and one rider from the River Valley Riders showed up to participate for this exciting moment in time. I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.
Project ASTRIDE is a 100-percent volunteer organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding activities to individuals with cognitive and physical challenges. This event gave these riders an opportunity that many people will never have a chance to do. Try mounted shooting on a famous horse, Nevada Joe, the official horse ambassador of NARHA. Minnesota was not about to be outdone by any of the "wild west" states for this affair. We came true to the "old cowboy" way when it came to put'n together a whoop hollar' good ol' time.
The collaboration was stupendous. We had cowboy Bill Pugh come in from Wisconsin to shoot with his rider Matt. After spending some time with Bill, Matt got onto his horse Nevada Joe and said "I'm a lover, I'm a fighter, I'm a wild horse rider. Now let's go shoot some balloons". Hmmm. I wonder where he learned that from so quickly. We had LaKota and her cowgirl Jill Grindeland. After Lakota rode she gave Nevada Joe a huge hug and for a moment I didn't think she was going to let go of him for the dismount. Fiona, just 6 years old, came in and although she wasn't able to ride, she got another special treat; Doc Holliday, Nevada Joe's traveling partner, came over to say "hi". He would be the Purcellis' mini. The two of them bonded and Fiona, as little as she speaks, spoke in her soft sweet voice to him and said hi and bye. The relationships that were built that night between team members and horses are relationships that will exceed an evening of fun. Bonds were formed and several mailing addresses were exchanged on that extraordinary evening.
The top cowboy pair was CMSA Wild Bill Pugh and Matthew Borchers and the top cowgirl pair was Cyan Steinbrecher with her CMSA partner Kelly Boll. The fastest individual time was again, Matthew Borchers who received a leather belt buckle donated by Wayne Ringham. There is no way that Matt could smile any bigger at that moment in time. Although not everyone had the fastest time each team was truly a winner. The teams, listing CMSA members first were: Kelly Boll and Cyan Steinbrecher, Cheryl Bravo Schwab and Maura Lieberman, Julie Janke and Sarah Lindbloom, Ann Phil and Mikayla Thoreson, Jill Grindeland and LaKota Plafcan, Mike Kuka Sr. and Mathias Lechner, Dean Olson and Mark Hodder, Jason Gray and Isaiah Hansen, Bill Pugh and Mathew Borchers and our trios were Kevin Kremers, Brian Wakefield and Jordon Hurrle, and Roger Glasgow, Tom Bamford and Gregory Collen. Each rider posed with their trophies donated by Little's Performance Horses and later sat around the camp fire to eat, laugh and listen to some good ol' fashion cowboy poetry.
Collaboration was the key to this event being a success. There were four groups that came together, worked together, and took pride together in what was happening. There were many individuals that joined in to make things memorable. A special thank you to our guests, Senator Amy Koch, Senator Gen Olson, Mayor Marvin Johnson of Independence, the Shriners, and all of our sponsors who made it possible: WAHL Clippers, Jeffers, Santiago Lions Club, McDonalds Meats of Clear Lake, Bailey Rays of Santiago, Coborns of Clearwater, Gaylen Bicking Photography of St. Cloud, Biffs Inc of Shakopee, Daggett Truck Lines of Frazee, the MMSA, Little's Performance Horses, Kuka's Quarter Horses, Purcelli Family (Shooting Star Ranch) and Nevada Joe. This event had so many touching moments, and touched so many people, and it again proved the generous hearts of the mounted shooter family. There was a "match" donation jar for anyone to put money into and the MMSA was matching it. We want to thank that special cowboy who put a donation in the jar, winked and just walked away in true cowboy fashion. For more information on ways to help your local NARHA riding centers visit www.astride.org, or www.nevadajoe.net.