Fundraising fun on tap

“Urban Cowboy” themed event will benefit the Stirrups ‘n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center

Fundraiser includes a Dolly Parton Look-a-like contest.

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Posted October 23, 2022 | By Susan Smiley-Height

Dust off your cowboy hat and shine up your boots! The Stirrups ‘n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center is hosting an “Urban Cowboy Night- Stand By Me” fundraising event on Dec. 3 that is sure to be a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time.

The center’s Quail Roost Arena will be transformed into a Gilley’s Saloon atmosphere. There will two-stepping and line dancing to tunes from the “Urban Cowboy” movie soundtrack. The festivities will include mechanical bull riding, a Dolly Parton Look-a-Like contest, a silent auction, drawings and more.

Contestants are being sought for the look-a-like contest, with registration closing on Nov. 30.

The mission of Stirrups ‘n Strides is to provide therapeutic horseback riding and driving to anyone with physical, mental and emotional challenges, “and to improve the quality of life for these individuals with the opportunity for emotional, educational and physical growth through horsemanship and competition.”

File photo: Ashley Quesnel waves from the saddle of her horse, Goody, as she is led around the arena by Brandi Lashinski, right, during the Special Olympics USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run at Stirrups ‘n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center in Citra, Fla. on Thursday, June 2, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

            The center is located at 4246 W. Highway 318, Citra. It is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and all instructors are PATH certified. The organization help riders compete in local, regional and national horse shows as well through Special Olympics.

Gail McDaniel, the program manager for Stirrups ‘n Strides, said the idea for the fundraiser was hers.

“It was an idea I’d had brewing for some time. In 1980, when the movie ‘Urban Cowboy’ was released, many of the clubs in my Sarasota hometown featured ‘Urban Cowboy’ themes and those early ‘80s bring back memories of great times out dancing with friends,” she said.

“The movie and various scenes in it, such as line dancing and two-stepping, the mechanical bull ride, the Dolly Parton Look-a-like contest and Gilley’s Saloon made a very viable theme for a super fun night out at our annual fundraiser,” McDaniel added. “The hit song ‘Stand by Me,’ by Mickey Gilley, provides the meaningful background that will be part of a customization at the event. The country western atmosphere is the perfect fit for our Ocala area. And because our local celebrity resident, John Travolta, who starred in ‘Urban Cowboy,’ lives here, it also made it a great fit for a themed event.”

McDaniel said Stirrups ‘n Strides depends on supporters, donors and volunteers to make the programs they offer sustainable.

“Through the power of horses, we see people of all ages with many challenges thrive, improve and enhance their quality of life. We have witnessed many amazing moments,” she said. “Proceeds from this fundraiser will help provide the financial assistance needed to continue our therapeutic horseback riding and Special Olympics programs, equine therapy and learning, and to give great care to our wonderful horses.”

The event on Dec. 3 begins with an Early Bird option at 4 p.m. for mechanical bull riding and line dance lessons. The main event is 5 to 9 p.m. and will be catered by Mojo’s.

Table sponsorships are available for the event. Individual tickets are $75. The suggested donation to enter the look-a-like contest is $20.

To learn more, go to

For information about the therapeutic riding programs, go to