Edited Press Release
Operation Free*Ride is an unprecedented collaboration between facility owners, breed associations and equestrian organizations, united for one important mission: to give returning combat veterans, Wounded Warriors and their families the opportunity to ride a horse for free. Launched one year ago in May, Operation Free*Ride has been a “runaway success” according to Sydney Knott, president and executive director of Horses4Heros.
“Operation Free*Ride is a great opportunity for horse owners and their equestrian facilities to show their support for the soldiers, veterans and their families and participate in a nationwide community service project. Horses4Heroes is reaching out to equestrian facilities throughout the country to make sure no family that wants a free ride is disappointed,” Knott said. In addition, the organization is partnering with large organizations such as ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Assn.) and its 149,000 members to cover every county, community and city in the country.
“This program is opening our wonderful world of horses to these men, women and their children who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. With thousands of troops returning home, programs like Operation?Free Ride are important to PTSD sufferers, Wounded Warriors, caregivers and their families,” Knott added. “In the past year, ‘Free Riders’ have participated in cattle drives and Civil War re-enactments, taken trail rides through wooded forests and enjoyed arena lessons. One mother and her three daughters drove three hours to take their free ride at our host center in Indiana.”
Facilities who participate in the program, Operation Free*Ride and the organization, Horses4Heroes, are eligible to receive 20% discounts on the entire line of Kensington Protective Products and can purchase the Troxel Sport Helmet for $30 (less than the $49.95 retail price).
Kensington founder, Alan Gatto, recently announced his company’s support for Horses4Heroes, saying: “We as an industry need to act and act now to get kids and families outdoors and reconnecting with our western heritage and horses. That’s why we have decided, for the first time since our founding in 1954, to support Horses4Heroes, and help them fulfill their mission to make horseback riding fun and affordable for our nation’s military heroes, First Responders and their families an audience of more than six million Americans. Horses4Heroes has built a large and growing national network of able-bodied and recreational equestrian centers in 44 states. Every day, through programs such as Operation Free*Ride, Back in the Saddle and 8.9.10: Ride to Win, they are introducing new families to horses and that’s good news for all of us in the equine industry.”
Horses4Heroes large and growing national network includes 240 centers in 44 states plus Canada. The organization hopes to double that number by year-end. For more information or to register your center, visit www.horses4hereos.org or call Horses4Heroes headquarters at 702.645.8446.