Cupcakes & Carrots 2/11/2017

Cupcakes & Carrots

LWRWC Throws a Party for the Horses

On Saturday, February 11, 2017, ladies from the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club toured the stables of the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), one of the Women’s Club’s adopted local charities.

The visit was organized by LWRWC Vice President and Philanthropy Chair, Eileen Buzzard, and included LWRWC President Monika Templeman, Treasurer, Kathleen Cleveland and Women’s Club members Linda Sutton, Claudia Dunbrow, Susi Pearlman, Susan Ellis, Kathy Raynor and Miriam Echevarria. LWRWC is a proud supporter of SMART through fundraisers and donations. LWRWC helps SMART fund scholarships, horses, vet services and purchase equipment including saddles and an invaluable Equicizer.

SMART, located at 4640 CR 675 E. Bradenton, FL, is a remarkable 23 acre equestrian facility that provides individuals with special needs with an outstanding therapeutic horseback riding and carriage driving program. SMART fills a crucial need for effective and affordable therapeutic activities for children (ages 5 and over) and adults with a wide range of physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities (including veterans suffering from PTSD), regardless of their financial circumstances. SMART serves over 650 participants and their families from Manatee, Sarasota and surrounding counties and over 60 % of SMART students receive scholarship funding.

The visit brought the SMART experience to life as the LWRWC women witnessed SMART Riding students demonstrating skills, self-confidence and independence achieved through their unique connection to the horses during therapeutic riding and carriage driving lessons. In addition to the excellent physical and cognitive benefits of the riding therapies, SMART’s students gain self-respect and an invaluable sense of accomplishment.

One of the highlights of our wonderful tour conducted by Brandi Ezell, the incoming SMART Executive Director and Nick Drizos, SMART Advisory Board Member, was an up close and personal meeting with Magic, a beautiful, bay quarter horse with no eyes and his companion and “seeing eye horse” 33 year old KC. Magic, who learned to function flawlessly despite being blind, helps SMART Riders overcome their own challenges and serves as an inspiration to all of us.

LWRWC is very proud to sponsor Magic, as well as an adorable pony named Norman. SMART has 14 well trained and very loveable horses of all breeds. Most of these horses have been donated to the program and their work at SMART is their “second career”. Through the tireless work and dedication of certified instructors, volunteers and empathic horses, SMART helps heal body, mind and spirit and make an amazing difference for every SMART participant and their families.

The visit culminated with a lovely Cupcakes and Carrots Party furnished by the LWRWC complete with roses for the mothers or caregivers of the SMART Students. The LWRWC ladies celebrated an early Valentine’s Day with the wonderful students, staff, parents and horses at SMART who exemplify the true meaning of love and friendship each and every day of the year.

SMART welcomes visitors and volunteers. If you would like to visit SMART and/or are interested in volunteering, or contributing to SMART, visit website at or call 941-322-2000.