Equine Trail Sports: Raising Funds for the Florida Sheriff’s Boys Ranch

Cyndie Pittman’s journey of horsemanship began at age 50 with the purchase of her first horse, an Appaloosa named Hawk.  Since then, she has studied dressage, jumping, Clinton Anderson, Parelli Natural Horsemanship and participated in many horsemanship clinics.  Then came competitive trail riding; competing, and ultimately hosting Equine Trail Sports events.

Equine Trail Sports Played a Valuable Role in Helping us Raise Funds

With Equine Trail Sports (ETS) I had the opportunity to host events at some great venues in Florida; Taylor County Horseman’s Arena, Long Branch Rest & Ride and the Florida Sheriff Boy’s Ranch where we held four weekend events.

ETS provides their ride hosts with the option of adding a charity fund to registration fees. The hardest part of hosting for me, was choosing one 501c3 to benefit from my ETS events because I realize they ALL need funding support.  I really enjoy helping the 501c3s.  While all have been special and very rewarding to work with, I think the most rewarding for me is the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch (FSBR), in Live Oak, Florida.

The Sheriffs Youth Ranches were founded in 1957 and have helped 145,000 at risk children and families in Florida.  Youth must interview to be accepted into the programs.  They must prove they want to be there.  When they graduate they go on to colleges, universities or good paying jobs.  If graduates go on to higher education, they are assisted by the Ranch.  The faculty are dedicated to these individuals.  It takes a very special type of person to help these kids and I am very proud to have been associated with them and to have been allowed to use their wonderful facility to help.

The youth of the Ranch have given me new hope for our future, and I am inspired by the Ranch’s mission to give these kids a better life and education far beyond the gates of the Ranch.  Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch’s Janet Steffner Sampson and Jeff have been fantastic to work with on these events, going above and beyond to help make our events a success. The Ranchers who helped with our rides, were very courteous, helpful, and went out of their way to make things happen and keep things on track.

“Cyndie did an awesome job bringing ETS events to the ranches and working with our youth.” ~ Janet Steffner Sampson

It Takes a Village

In order to successfully pull off events such as this, a network of support is crucial. There is great joy built in to this process, as these networks quickly become a family of sorts, like minded individuals forming team like bonds rallying for success.

Junie Woods prepared the most delicious food to ever hit the grounds of any ETS event. Junie and her Suwannee Young Riders 4-H group did a fantastic job, even making sure my staff and I were fed, bringing food to us because we had forgotten to eat!

My longtime judges were Bev Brazil, Terri Nutter, Jenn Brazil, Richard and Pat Blaney Richard M. Blaney, and Heidi Reinhardt. They always helped me keep the obstacles going even when we were short manned.

Bev Brazil and Terri Nutter were, and are, what kept me on track, my sounding boards, score recorders and judge managers. Jenn Brazil always saved the day by getting and transporting judges to the correct obstacles. I always valued these ladies and their feedback, brainstorming and turning things a millions ways to make sure it worked and was safe for our riders and horses.

All these folks and all the riders who came out to help and have fun helped the Ranch raise significant funds in 2017. Because of these people, volunteers and riders alike, as well as ETS, a lot of good was done. For that a very big THANK YOU.

I must say, my horse friends are my best friends!

My First Horse at Age 50

I needed a break from life. We had moved to DC for me to take a job at the Pentagon involving a grueling schedule. I was dealing with the sudden death of my mother. Those of us in this club know the feeling of disconnect from the world. So, I got a horse.

Hawk is a Snowcap Appy. He was my first horse, the horse I dreamt about my entire childhood. The Appaloosa are Indian horses, known for their colorful spotted coat pattern, good feet, solid body and being difficult to work with, and my dream horse was all that and more! I brought him home in 2000 and from there, many wonderful adventures of learning, competing, horsemanship and friendship have occurred, and continue to enrich my life today. It is amazing how one sassy Appy can come along and change everything about your life!

ETS is a nationwide ride association. Check the online schedule to find rides near you!

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