A special horse will play a major part in improving the lives of sick children.
Regalo (Spanish for "gift horse"), is a five-year-old quarter horse gelding, and was purchased by the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys last year.
The horse has worked with trainers all over the province over the course of the last 10 months, and will be auctioned off at the annual Rocking W Ranch Horse Sale in Brandon on April 20, with all proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
As part of the first-ever Hoof Beats of Hope campaign, the horse, which is originally from the Boissevain area, was set to pay a visit to the capital region on March 23, as Miracle Ranch at 65083 Lorne Hill Road prepared to host it.
Miracle Ranch owner Phyllis Howe explained the fellowship has approached several people in the horse community to help out with the campaign. The ranch jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
"Different trainers across Manitoba were donating training," she said. "Of course, they approached us and asked if we would donate the open house to them. They go out and just ask."
Howe expected there may be a prospective buyer or two at the open house, but said the reputation of the sale in Brandon should be a major factor in getting a hefty price for the horse.
Fellowship of Christian Cowboys (Manitoba chapter) secretary/treasurer Donna Baker said the horse was initially purchased with donations made to the chapter in June. Regalo has since travelled the province, working with different trainers, attending such events at the Heartland Rodeo Association finals in Carman in September, and meeting some special friends.
"He seems to react very well to anything we’ve asked of him," said Baker, noting he was used in the grand entry and was started in the roping box in Carman. "(Children’s Hospital Foundation mascot) Dr. Goodbear and Regalo met, and Regalo didn’t even react at all, which is very unusual. Our other horses were quite concerned, but we were quite pleased."
Baker said the group has received sponsors for Regalo’s feed, vaccinations, and a farrier and chiropractor have also given their time to care for the horse, in order to ensure any money donated goes straight to the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Children’s Hospital Foundation community development co-ordinator Tania Gauthier said the goal was to make the horse an accessible one.
"(We wanted) to train him to be a solid riding horse that anybody could ride," she said. "He is a very even-tempered horse."