Horses bring hope to charities

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 08:28 am

Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley operations manager Mady Thiel-Kopstein used a landscape theme in the Horses Jump to Give a Leg Up fundraiser at Spruce Meadows.
Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley operations manager Mady Thiel-Kopstein used a landscape theme in the Horses Jump to Give a Leg Up fundraiser at Spruce Meadows.
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Charities in the foothills are getting a much-needed leg up this summer.

Spruce Meadows selected 20 southern Alberta non-profit agencies to paint life-sized fiberglass horses in its new fundraiser Horses Jump to Give a Leg Up to give the groups a financial boost as they recover from the devastating effects of the 2013 flood.

Three agencies were awarded cash prizes for the best painted horses, and the remaining 17 received $1,000 during the Spruce Meadows National Tournament on June 7, yet the fundraising is not done. The horses will remain displayed at Spruce Meadows and photos posted online to raise money for the agencies in a silent auction that ends on Sept. 10.

Although the Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley was not among the top three selected, executive director Shirley Puttock said the club’s participation is a great way to increase its profile and provide extra money for the organization.

The club provides before- and-after-school care to children across the foothills, as well as a breakfast program in Black Diamond.

“We felt really privileged to be able to participate,” she said.

Puttock joined the other agencies at the event in Spruce Meadows on June 7.

“We all had our groups with us cheering us on,” she said. “Everybody that was there was doing really important work in the community.”

Puttock said the money will make a big difference to the club, which expanded its services last summer to provide programming and support to youth in High River and the temporary community of Saddlebrook, at Aldersyde.

The club’s horse was painted by its operations manager Mady Thiel-Kopstein, a landscape and wildlife artist whose work is displayed in galleries across southern Alberta.

The horse was delivered to Thiel-Kopstein’s garage in May and she was given $500 to spend on supplies.

“It was challenging because it’s got four legs, a tail and a head,” she said. “Whatever decision you make you had to follow through to the whole horse.”

Thiel-Kopstein said she was impressed with the other horses featured at Spruce Meadows.

“Everybody had great ideas,” she said. “You could see people hired professionals and some did it on their own. It was such a variety. You could tell people put a huge effort into it.”

Another of the 20 agencies involved was the Foothills Special Needs Association for Parents and Siblings (SNAPS), an agency that provides support to families with children who have special needs.

SNAPS executive director Orvella Small said Horses Jump to Give a Leg Up puts the organization on the radar as charities affected by the flood.

“We thought what a great awareness opportunity for SNAPS to be in Spruce Meadows and have a horse presented in the international ring,” she said.

The non-profit group had a university art student paint the horse, which includes drawings of hands to represent the organization’s helping hands, the SNAPS logo and a map of the region SNAPS covers.

“She did a great job representing the great work of SNAPS,” she said.

Since last year’s flood, SNAPS expanded its services to provide families with such assistance as music therapy, life skills and stress workshops, said Small.

For more information or to bid on a horse go to


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