"We use the power of the horse to help people shift gears in their lives."

That's the mission of Reach 4 A Star Riding Academy, a therapeutic riding center in Natrona County. "We use the power of the  horse to teach horsemanship skills to people who have intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and mental and behavioral challenges that interfere with their lives," says the academy's Executive Director Karol Santisteven. "And so we use the power of being able to learn ow to rise a horse and to communicate and to problem solve to help them function better in their life."

Reach 4 A Star will be holding a "Run For The Roses" fundraiser Saturday, April 29th to benefit the academy's programs. Here's an explanation of therapeutic riding from the organization's website:

"Therapeutic Riding may be uncommon to this area, but it is certainly not a new idea. As far back as Ancient Greece, the power of using a horse for helping people was recognized and utilized. Then, the European countries started formalizing the use of a horse in therapy and now today it is a world wide recognized therapy. While Hippo therapy is provided by a physical/occupational/speech therapist and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is provided by a licensed psychotherapist/psychologist/counselor, Therapeutic Riding is provided by a certified instructor and takes on a more recreational setting. One of the great things about this part is that the benefits of the other two therapies tend to overlap in the Therapeutic Riding setting."

Santisteven says their program benefits both children and adults, and includes other programs such as a Grief Camp through Central Wyoming Hospice, and Horsemanship classes for the Girl Scouts. "There is a pretty wide variety of people we help by bringing horses into their lives," she says.

The Run For The Roses evening will be a pre-Kentucky Derby party, says Santisteven, including derby finery and a hat contest. There will also be dinner, cocktails, a silent auction, a reverse raffle, and video horse-racing. It's more than a fundraiser, though, she says. "it allows the community to come out and learn about what we do and meet some of our riders and really get that personal opportunity to engage with our program even if they ca't come out to the arena to see it in person."

"Run For The Roses" will be held Saturday evening, April 29th, at the Parkway Plaza. You can find more information at EventBrite.com, or the Reach 4 A Star Facebook page.