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We’re in The Eye on Sun Valley

By August 16, 2020News, Events, Home page

Swiftsure’s Horses Go Bar Hopping to Rally Support for Therapeutic Ranch

In a scene somewhat evocative of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Moose and gang took to the streets of Ketchum on Thursday to drum up awareness of Swiftsure Ranch and its upcoming cowboy Ball.
Sunday, August 16, 2020

The two customers ponying up to Warfield Distiller’s sidewalk bar came in on four feet—or hooves.

And they didn’t mind at all when other customers asked to pet them.

Zeus and Moose—Swiftsure Ranch’s two 150-pound mini-horses—happily lapped up the Spirited Pony-Up Lemonade that bartender Justin Hockemeyer provided them. Then they set about looking cute in hopes of ponying up business for the therapeutic ranch’s upcoming Cowboy Ball and Swiftsure Derby.

Paul Bennett, the executive director of Swiftsure Ranch, fed a refreshing drink of Warfield’s basil lemonade topped with orange slice to Moose.

“It’s a special Signature Cocktail Warfield has made for the ball,” said supporter Nancy Glick of the cocktail. “But there’s no alcohol in the drink the minis got.”

The summery cocktail featuring Warfield’s organic gin, house made basil lemonade, rhubarb bitters and Pimm’s liqueur—is being made by the Warfield for the 29th Annual Cowboy Ball, which will be held on Thursday, Aug. 27.

The ball, which normally attracts about 500 people to Swiftsure’s arena south of Bellevue, will be a virtual ball this year because of the pandemic.

But Glick and her husband Josh are planning to have a couple friends over to their patio. They’ll pick one of four special Swiftsure take-out meals being concocted by Smokey Bone BBQ, The Grill at Knob Hill, Power House and The Warfield. Then, they will tune in on their laptop at 7 p.m. for a live broadcast co-hosted by Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly and Tara Bell on behalf of Swiftsure at The Argyros.

Robert Olson tends to Zeus God of Striker, who has been challenging Pal, aka “the handshake horse,” down the stretch of the Swiftsure Ranch Derby.

Meals-on-the-go cost $50 each and include a choice of Waygu skirt steak, prime rib sliders, beef brisket, smoked turkey and baby back ribs. Diners can top it off with a party pack of the Spirited Pony-Up Lemonade.

“You could just do this at home with your spouse, or you could have a socially distanced party with friends,” said Glick.

Money raised by a Paddle Up, raffle and virtual derby benefits the 191-acre Swiftsure Ranch, which provides free therapeutic riding to adults and children south of Bellevue.

  • The Derby involves putting sponsorship money on one of 18 horses in Swiftsure’s stable. The horse receiving the most dollars finishes first. Those who “bet” on the winning horse will be entered in a drawing to win a choice of a 2020/21 Challenger ski pass, a round of golf at Sun Valley’s Trail Creek or White Cloud golf courses for four, and a Gold Heart Pendant from Christopher & Co.,
    Those visiting Warfield Distillery’s new tasting room, which opens up onto Ketchum’s Main Street sidewalk, couldn’t help but pet Zeus before the horse headed to Hailey to put in an appearance at Power House.

    The winning horse will receive an equine spa day with lots of bubbles, bodywork and polished hooves.

    Swiftsure Ranch has received a challenge match of $25,000 for the final weeks of the Derby from the Spur Foundation that will match every sponsorship dollar up to $25,000. For information go to

  • Raffle tickets—available for $20 each or six for $100—offer the opportunity to win a six-day river trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Far & Away Adventures, a jacket and hat band from Camas Designs, bike rentals from The Elephant’s Perch, clay shooting and lunch at Willow Creek with champion shooter Mari McStay, a bottle of Macallan Estate Highland Single Malt Scott Whiskey and more. Raffle tickets are available at

Under current health guidelines, Swiftsure has been able to offer riding lessons to 58 participants a week—about half of the 110 lessons the ranch would normally provide each week, said Executive Director Paul Bennett. This summer’s lessons have concentrated on those with social and learning challenges, rather than physical disabilities, because of the pandemic’s requirement for social distancing.

Normally, the ranch offers therapy to more than 300 individuals a year, including children and adults from Camp Rainbow Gold, Higher Ground Sun Valley, NAMI, Blaine County Schools and the Idaho School of the Deaf and Blind.

It costs about $4,000 a year to provide care for each horse. The ranch hopes to raise $325,000 from the Ball and Derby. To spur it along, the board just announced a $100,000 challenge match.

To purchase dinner tickets or register for the livestream, visit or call 208-578-9111.