Guiding Reins holds ‘Derby Days’ watch party at Brights Creek

Published 12:21 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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MILL SPRING—On Saturday, Guiding Reins held its 3rd annual Kentucky Derby Day watch party fundraiser at Bright’s Creek Equestrian Center.

The watch party began at 3:30 p.m., and those who attended gathered to watch the pre-races and the main event, the 150th Kentucky Derby. Attendees were treated to snacks, chips, cupcakes, and barbecue provided by Mountain View BBQ. The party featured music from Champagne Charlie, a hat contest, and a silent auction with over sixty items up for bid, with all proceeds going to Guiding Reins.  

Guiding Reins’ mission is to be a lifeline for those who work in high-stress careers, including military veterans and active-duty personnel, first responders, front-line workers, and their loved ones. Its transformative equine-assisted wellness programs are not just effective but life-changing, empowering participants to learn how to cope with stress and trauma, opening up new pathways for healing and resilience.   

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“Derby Days has grown each year we’ve had it,” said Guiding Reins founder Diane Prewitt. “We are deeply grateful to our partners at Bright’s Creek Equestrian Center and the wonderful sponsors of Buchanan Construction and Beverly-Hanks Realtors and their team of Heather Chambers and JJ Murphy for their invaluable support in putting this amazing event together. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all the generous businesses and individuals who donated items for the silent auction.” 

Brights Creek Equestrian Barn Manager Alicia Sama said the Guiding Reigns program can help teach veterans how to make relationships work. 

“Horses tend to mirror and mimic you,” said Sama. “They can match your heart rate from four feet away. So you have to learn to relax and work with the horse.”

Hannah Pooley, a veteran who utilized the program and is now attending Clemson University majoring in Recreational Therapy and minoring in Equine Management hopes to one day run a similar program after seeing the effects of equine-based therapy. 

“I almost can’t put into words what this program means to me and others who have participated in it,” Pooley said. “It’s indescribable when you connect with an animal on a personal level. Working with a 1000-pound animal makes for great therapy, and it makes you check in with yourself.” 

Brights Creek co-owner Mark Lambert said, “We’re glad to be able to open our community to a charity like Guiding Reins for events like this and the recent golf tournament. They are doing great work, and we look forward to continuing the relationship in years to come.”

For more information on Guiding Reins, visit Donations are welcome and can be made on the website.