Horses4Heroes, one of the most successful equestrian service groups for the military, will be participating in Cheyenne Frontier Days for the second year in a row by giving free horseback rides to active duty military personnel, veterans, First Responders and their families, Friday, July 18 during the Fort D. A. Russell Days open house at F. E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne.
The event, Operation Free Ride, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., near the main gate. The arena will be located near the helicopter display on the east side of the event area. The first 300 riders will receive a gift bag with one free ticket to the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Rodeo on Patriot’s Day, Monday, July 21, and a free Horses4Heroes T-shirt. Civilians may ride on a space available basis. All who participate in Operation Free Ride will be entered to win a statue from The Trail of Painted Ponies Patriotic Collection. Sponsors and supporters include Wrangler National Patriot, Kensington Protective Products, C-A-L Ranch, and Michael Gaughan’s South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Horses for Operation Free Ride will be provided by local riding facilities. Rides are open to all ages, and standard fitness guidelines for equine activities will be enforced. Riders 16 and under are required to wear a helmet, and adults (18 and over) must sign a waiver for adult and minor riders.
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, service members and their families the opportunity to ride a horse for free. Launched in 2012, Horses4Heroes’ Operation Free Ride has been a “runaway success,” with more than 5,000 men, women and children discovering horses, according to Sydney Knott, president and executive director of Horses4Heroes.
“This program is opening the wonderful world of horses to these local heroes who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. With thousands of troops returning home, programs like Operation Free Ride are important to PTS sufferers, Wounded Warriors, caregivers and their families,” Knott said. “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.
“Operation Free Ride is a great opportunity for horse owners and equestrian facilities to show their support for our troops, veterans and their families and participate in a nationwide community service project. In addition to Cheyenne Frontier Days, Horses4Heroes hosted Operation Free Ride at the Pinto World Championship Show in Tulsa last month and Operation Free Ride will be returning to River City Rodeo in Omaha and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas,” Knott added.
Founded in 2006 and based in Las Vegas, Horses4Heroes is introducing horses and horseback riding to service members, veterans, First Responders and their families. Through its growing national network of 280 centers in 44 states plus Canada, the organization provides affordable (sometimes free) recreational, instructional and health and wellness equestrian programs for all ages, all riding levels and in all disciplines. For more information, visit www.horses4heroes.org or call Horses4Heroes headquarters at 702-645-8446, 888-987-4376 (9US-HERO).
Fort D. A. Russell Days is an annual open house on F. E. Warren AFB held in conjunction with Cheyenne Frontier Days. Historic home tours, military reenactments and tours of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile systems are on tap for those who want to look back in history or forward to the future.
Cheyenne Frontier Days began as a simple one-day celebration in September of 1897 when a group of volunteers from the Cheyenne business community thought it would be fun and profitable to stage a western celebration. Today, more than 2,500 volunteers work around the calendar to produce an event that borders on two weeks long and includes parades, pancake breakfasts, world-class concerts, chili and chuck wagon cook-offs, carnival, exhibits, Indian Village, military open houses and, of course, the event that started it all–nine Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos. For more information visit www.cfdrodeo.com.