The War Bonnet Roundup starts this Thursday, but for some special kids, the rodeo fun has already begun.
Rodeo queens went to Champ’s Heart in Idaho Falls to take part in a service project in which they gave children with special needs a chance to be a rodeo star.
Champ’s Heart is a ministry to share horse encounter experiences with children and their family members who are facing disability and health challenges.
Most of the rodeo queens at the event said they had been riding horseback since before they could even walk.
They decided their service project should combine their two loves, children and horses.
Tori Wanner, a Rodeo Queen of Mackay, Idaho, said, ” It warms my heart. It just makes me really happy that we have these amazing animals, and I love to share it with the kids. ”
Brenda Fitz is a mother of a child with disabilities and has been going to
Champ’s Heart with her children since April.
She says she is grateful for the experience that it gives her son, Brayden , and is happy that her other son, Bodee , is able to benefit from the experience, too.
” I think it was a great opportunity to meet other families and interact with the horses, ” Fitz said. ” I’m such a fan of horse therapy. It’s just a great place to gain social and physical skills. ”
Everyone had a chance to interact with a horse.
Some were able to ride horseback or tag along in a carriage stroll.
Some children chose to paint the horses, and others chose to dance alongside them.
The horse experience is designed to be a gateway for the children to come out of their bubble to express excitement in a new way .
” The first time we took Brayden , he was really nervous and didn’t want to interact with the horses, ” Fitz said. ” I knew that with his love for animals, it was just a matter of time. We got him on the horse, and his brother, Bodee , was a big part of helping Braydon get comfortable. ”
Bodee hopes that when he’s a bit older, he will become a volunteer at the ranch to one day share his experience with other children.
” I like helping people and I like to see horses, ” Bodee said
And he’s not the only one.
Larry Cudmore is in charge of the horseback riding experience and would like to see the smiles on these kids’ faces continue to grow.
” It’s about the kids, ” Cudmore said. ” It’s about giving them a break from the challenges of life and the different things that they are faced with in life that take the smile away. So I just figured if I can put a smile on their faces for one hour a day one week, maybe someone else will think it’s a good idea too and they will put the second hour in someplace. ”
If you missed out on the event and would like a chance for your family to meet the horses, you still can.
Champ’s Heart plans to host a horse interaction experience every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.