National Non-Profit Marks Flag Day with Free Horseback Rides For Tulsa Veterans and Families

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Horses4Heroes, one of the most successful national non-profit equestrian service organizations, will be giving free horseback rides to Tulsa veterans and their families on Flag Day, June 14, during the Pinto World Championship Show.

Operation Free Ride Pinto will be held in The Pavilion at Expo Square from 3-5 p.m. A Parade of Heroes, featuring Free Ride participants and Pinto exhibitors with military ties, will follow at 6 pm in the Ford Truck Livestock Arena. Expo Square is located at 4145 East 21st Street. Parking and admission is free. This is the fourth year that Flag Day has been Horses4Heroes Day at the Pinto World Show.

Miss Horses4Heroes 2014, 5-year-old Sophie Juhl, daughter of Major Ken Juhl, USAF, and Deanna of Las Vegas, will be attending this year's Operation Free Ride event. Also new this year is an opportunity for Operation Free Ride participants to meet equine celebrities, "Novelisto," an Andalusian stallion and the star of "Winter's Tale; "RJ Masterbug," an American Paint Horse and star of "Hidalgo"; and movie horse trainers Rex Peterson and Carl Swanson. This "meet and greet" will take place at 5 p.m., following the free horseback riding.

Horses for Operation Free Ride Pinto will be provided by local riding facility West Equestrian Ranch in Sand Springs. Rides are open to all ages and a 200-pound weight limit will be strictly enforced. Riders 16 and under will be required to wear a helmet.

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 2012, more than 5000 service members, veterans, survivors and their families have ridden a horse for free, either by appointment at Horses4Heroes affiliates throughout the country or at equestrian events including the Pinto World Show, Cheyenne Frontier Days, River City Rodeo on Omaha and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Las Vegas. Wrangler National Patriot, Smith Brothers Western Wear, Trail of Painted Ponies, C-A-L Ranch and Kensington Protective Products are sponsors of Operation Free Ride 2014.

"This program is opening the wonderful world of horses to these men, women and their children who have sacrificed so much on our behalf," said Sydney Knott, founder of Horses4Heroes. "In the past two years, '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."

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 affiliates 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).