By James Beaty
It’s almost time to hit the trail — but there’s still time to cowboy and cowgirl-up and help out a horse-related organization known for its charitable work.
A benefit trail ride and lunch on behalf of the Therapeutic Equestrian Association of McAlester — also known as TEAM — is set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18. The trail ride will be held at the James Collins Wildlife Management Area, which includes parts of Pittsburg and Latimer counties, northeast of Krebs.
It’s expected to take about three hours, said Pat Dugger, a TEAM board member and volunteer. It includes a break about midway through the ride.
“Back in the days of open range, there used to be an old cow camp,” Dugger said. “That’s where we’ll take a break.”
Following the break, the plan is for the horses and riders to continue on with their jaunt and return to the starting point for a lunch.
It’s BYOH at the family event — bring your own horse. None will be provided and those which are brought to participate in the event must have a current Coggins test, organizers said.
Dugger also said there’s been a change in previously-announced menu for the after-ride lunch. Scratch the French fires, she said.
“We’ll have barbecue sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans and dessert,” Dugger said. Soft drinks will also be available.
Cost is $25 for both the trail ride and the lunch. It’s not necessary to join the trail ride to enjoy the lunch and help out TEAM, however. For those who want to participate in the lunch only, the cost is $10 — an option taken by some spouses who don’t have two riders, or maybe two horses, in the family.
“We’re a a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, so we are tax deductible,” Dugger said.
“We raise money because horses are an important part of our program and we have to feed them,” Dugger said.
TEAM’s goal is to provide equine-assisted activities to those with physical, mental, behavioral and emotional challenges, to help them gain self-confidence and increase life skills, according to members of the organization, directed by Mandy Carter.
A few rules are in place for the trial ride. No studs and no “ponying” — or leading one horse while riding another — is allowed, organizers said.
In addition, a signed waiver and release of liability is required.
To get to the James Collins Wildlife Management Area from McAlester, head north and east on State Highway 31 from Krebs for approximately 23 miles; turn east at the wildlife area sign and go approximately five miles to the entrance.
Dugger said anyone needing more information can phone 918-557-9021 or 918-636-4884.
So far, the weather appears to be cooperating for the weekend event, with sunny skies and a high in the upper 80s forecast at mid-week for Saturday.
“It’s looking good,” Dugger said.
While it’s been noted the ride is expected to take about three hours, the time could vary somewhat.
“You never know how fast your riders will be,” said Dugger.
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