Kristy Pigeon built the Sagebrush Arena in Hailey, Idaho, and developed the therapeutic riding program in the summer of 1991. Her interest in doing so was a result of her desire to share the beauty and serenity of the Sawtooth mountains and the Wood River Valley and the healing power of horses with challenged individuals. Kristy trained as a volunteer at the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy in Woodside, California, and she brought her skills and resources together to start the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped (SETCH) at the Sagebrush Arena. Her vision was to provide therapeutic horseback riding lessons to individuals with disabilities at no charge. Kristy served as the executive director until her retirement in August 2010, and her vision is still carried out every day!
Having already served as a board member and volunteer for many years prior, Cheryl Bennett began as the executive director in April 2011. SETCH leased use of the Sagebrush Arena for 20 years, and it had been a long time goal of the board of directors to find a permanent home for the program. Having the heart and soul to bring the program to the next phase, Cheryl began working hard to secure a permanent home for SETCH.
The Big Move South
The Swiftsure Ranch had served the equestrian community in Blaine County as a cutting horse ranch and an eventing facility. In November 2011 with the help of generous individual support and a low-interest rate loan, the ranch was purchased at auction by SETCH. After reconstruction on the office, kitchen, and lounge space, creation of new ADA bathrooms, a fresh coat of paint, irrigation maintenance, and hundreds of new fence rails, SETCH moved into its new and permanent home in May 2012. With the move, the SETCH board decided to change the program’s name to the Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center.
The Swiftsure Ranch, located on 191 acres just south of Bellevue, Idaho, is a dream come true for the members of this team and the participants in the program. The new ranch offers not only a permanent home to the program but also pasture for the horses, trails on the property, and plenty of room to grow!
The journey to this remarkable new home begins and ends with incredible donor support and countless hours donated by the devoted volunteers who are the key to the operation and its success. The Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center is able to provide riding lessons to its participants without cost because of the devotion of these amazing and selfless people.