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Jockeys and Juleps: A Southern Reins Fundraiser


Article & photos By Nancy Brannon

If you couldn’t be in Louisville, Kentucky on Derby Day - May 7, 2016 – the best alternative was to attend a Kentucky Derby Party, where dressy hats, delicious food, mint juleps, and live music (by the Bluff City Blacksliders) were prelude to a live broadcast of the Run for the Roses. Kirby Dobbs Floyd and her husband Glenn hosted an elaborate Jockeys and Juleps Derby Party to raise funds for Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy. Floyd’s childhood home on Shady Grove Rd., Memphis, TN, teemed with nearly 900 guests. The weather was absolutely perfect for the garden event, which, of course, featured a hat contest. Celebrity guests included Valerie Calhoun from FOX 13 Memphis and Opera star Kallen Esperian.

The horse-themed event included live equines. Entering the grounds, guests were greeted by Longreen Whipper-In Chip Carruthers, mounted on his chestnut horse, and Longreeen MFH Susan Walker, mounted on her grey mare Miss Meg. On their way to the front door, guests met Southern Reins’ minis Freckles and Shadow.

With major sponsors like First Tennessee Bank Advisors, Lexus of Memphis, Dobbs Management Service, and a long list of other sponsors and contributors, this first fundraising event collected $290,000 for Southern Reins. In addition to the sponsorships and donations, an art auction and a live auction raised $64,000 for Southern Reins. Several artists donated paintings for the art auction, including Margaret Munz Losch, “All the Pretty Little Ponies;” Olga King, “Blaze” and “Glory;” Samantha Sherry, “Final Turn;” Lesa Rowe, “Running for Home;” Catherine Erb, “Untitled Horse;” John Sampietro, “Window Fillies;” and Leslie Barron, “Winter Pasture;” among others. Some of the live auction items were a 2017 Kentucky Derby Excursion for 2; a Delta Overnight Getaway at “The Roost” in Clarksdale, Mississippi; and a North Carolina Mountain Retreat.

About Southern Reins: Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy is a new, non-profit therapeutic riding program located in Nesbit, Mississippi. Located on Panther Creek Ranch, the facility includes a 12 stall barn, lounge, outdoor riding arena, and lush pastures.

The program serves individuals with disabilities in the mid-south – southwest Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and northeast Arkansas. The program offered its first 8-week lesson session in September 2015 with 13 participants, followed by a 3-week Holiday lesson session in December with 20 riders.  This Spring’s session was filled with 35 riders.
“We hope to grow the number of students, so that we can serve close to 50 per week,” said Julie Haag, Executive Director. “We offer lessons throughout the year, with 8-week sessions in the Spring and Fall, two 4-week Summer sessions, and a 3-week Holiday session in December.”

Southern Reins serves people with disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, mental and physical disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and more. Therapeutic riding lessons target physical, social and recreational goals, fostering positive self‐awareness, increased muscle strength and coordination. The minimum age to participate is 5 years old, and the program supports both children and adults.
The program currently offers equine assisted activities, including therapeutic riding and barn lessons in group and individual formats. In the near future Southern Reins will offer equine facilitated mental health and Hippotherapy.
Southern Reins is a PATH, Intl. Member Center and its equine-assisted activities and therapies follow PATH Intl.’s standards for safe, ethical and professional practices. All riding and activities are conducted by PATH, Intl. certified riding instructors.

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