Riding High

Horse headquarters transforms into dinner-and-dance venue Sept. 14 for good cause
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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It’s time to pick out your best cowboy boots, Wranglers and Stetson hats as the Riding High Equestrian Program gets ready to host its eighth annual Blue Jean Ball. “Everyone wears jeans and cowboy boots and hats and whatever they want to wear — just be casual and have fun,” said Yvonne Ellis, volunteer coordinator for the Auburn-based nonprofit equine facilitated psychotherapy center. On the evening of Sept. 14, the horses are put out to pasture and the facilities turn into a dinner-and-dance venue. Attendees have a chance to see horse demonstrations presented by just some of the youth that have gone through Riding High’s program, and the opportunity to see Riding High’s menagerie, which includes 12 horses, cows, goats, rabbits, dogs and even a rooster. Dinner includes appetizers crafted by The Club Car and Carino’s Italian Grill and a main course of ribs, chicken, salads and beans. The Revolving Doors are scheduled to perform, and dancing is always a good idea, Ellis said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful evening. It’s a wonderful place,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful environment. People can walk around, see the animals. It’s just fun because you’re in the stalls.” Riding High Director Honey Cowan’s house has become a home base for contributed live and silent auction items, which include horse-related blankets, carvings, art and more. The Blue Jean Ball is Riding High’s biggest fundraising event, so she doesn’t mind too much that her living room has become storage for gift baskets and carousel horses — there’s always room for more, she said—or that she’ll be having quite a few guests visiting on the 14th. “The big thing about having it here is being able to show what we do,” she said, noting that this is the second year hosting the Blue Jean Ball at Riding High. “It’s here.” Riding High works with children, youth and adults who haven’t benefited from “traditional” therapeutic methods, serving everyone from at-risk teens to children struggling with mental disorders. “The youth of today are the future of tomorrow. If we don’t help kids today, we won’t have a tomorrow,” Cowan said. “What we want to do is instill some pride in them, give them a sense of pride.” Elizabeth Farmer first encountered Riding High when researching alternative forms of therapy for her daughter Ayla, now 14. Ayla’s attitude has changed exponentially since she began working with the horses. “I saw such a change in Ayla,” Farmer said. “I saw such wonderful things happening, so I asked if I could volunteer.” Now the Auburn mother and daughter both volunteer at Riding High. “It’s kind of like I’m paying back, giving back for the help I’ve received,” Farmer said. Ayla said she’s the Riding High poster girl, a success story of someone contributing to a program that helped her out. “I love animals,” she said. “They give me such a great feeling. They’re like my best friends. They mirror your feelings. I believe it works so well because people have a certain feeling about animals. Some people might not listen to them, but the horses’ ears are always open.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at ---------- Blue Jean Ball What: Benefit featuring hors d’oeuvres, family style dinner, no-host bar, dancing, live and silent auctions, horse demonstrations, live music featuring The Revolving Doors When: 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 Where: Riding High Equestrian Program, 11685 Lorenson Road, Auburn Cost: $50 per person Information: (530) 888-8891 or Good to know: Silent and live auction item donations are welcome.