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Wild West Party Benefits Horspice

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ALLIANCE — No horses attended the 7th Annual Wild West Party Saturday night. The faithful steeds at East Point Horspice, however, were not far from the minds of people packing the Eagles for the event. The fundraiser supports the therapeutic riding operation east of Alliance, on the edge of the Sandhills.

By 6:05 p.m. an empty seat was hard to come by. The supper line eclipsed the table; people wound around tables lined with silent auction items and took part in activities like learning how to draw horses. Throughout the night, live music from Crossbell filled the air.

Later, kids games, including the popular stick horse races, added to the fun. A live auction sold pellet guns, a framed photo and other items, complementing the silent auction. Adults (21 and older) sat around tables for Texas Hold’em Poker.

East Point Horspice — Where people and horses come together — uses the event to pay for a major portion of the cost of keeping horses. The funding is in addition to fees paid by riders and other donations.

Horspice founders and operators, Charlene and Brian Stephenson, said Saturday’s event was their most well-attended with funds raised “up a little bit.” They were a little concerned about other events that evening, like Dancing With The Stars though people still came out in record numbers. A cowboy poet evening was offered before, however Brian said the Wild West Party, “seems to be a good formula that works.”

Activity at the Horspice begins this spring with volunteer orientation May 10.  The first sessions for riders are Thursday and Friday, May 17 and 18. A third session may be offered on Sundays.

A Memorial Volunteer Center is more than three-fourths complete. The Stephenson said they are committed to completing the facility by May with a ribbon cutting and open house planned.

Riders often return to the same horse from year to year. Each week horses, such as a Magnum, a large white steed, are hitched in front of their picture waiting. Brian said a new addition will be a donkey named Spike, who, “has character and personality all his own. (We will) use him for some of the smaller riders.”

Some riders have grown up at Horspice. Alliance High School student Stephanie Hagler will be riding her 12th season, starting when Horspice opened. Alex Pfeiffer, Cooper Nelson and Mileigh Krebs have all been riding around seven years. They are anticipating some new riders as well.

Volunteers have been dedicated to the success of Horspice. Dan and Cheryl Linegar have been traveling for years from Hemingford to attend almost every session. Another volunteer comes from Crescent Lake Wildlife Refuge. Members of a Girl Scout troop help while increasing their own horsemanship. Charlene said they had 47 volunteers in 2017 and will need more if they expand to Sunday.

Brian thanked everybody for their support. “It has become bigger than us … humbling is probably the best way to put it.”