Parish trail ride benefits St. Jude Childrens hospital

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Riders with a cause rode horses under a cloudy Saturday morning sky, in an effort to raise money

for cancer research.

The Concordia Parish Mounted Patrol/Riding Club hosted the 32 person trail ride at Roseland Plantation, costing $10 per person, to benefit St. Jude Children&8217;s Hospital.

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The event, including 17 of the Concordia Parish&8217;s Mounted Patrol members and 15 non-members, offered an opportunity for anyone who wanted to ride a horse through the flat lands of Louisiana.

&8220;I don&8217;t even have a horse, this one is a friend of mine&8217;s,&8221; Scott McGaughey said patting the horse besides him. &8220;It&8217;s just a bunch of people getting together to raise money for a good cause.&8221;

A 7-mile morning ride and a slightly shorter afternoon ride were offered to those who wanted to participate. The trail ride was the third-annual ride for St. Jude, a change from the past events, Marie Cowan said.

&8220;Over the years we have done a bike-a-thon and when they called again this year we said we thought we would try a fundraiser with the horses,&8221; said Cowan. &8220;St. Jude will take any kind of donation, so this year we decided to retire the bikes.&8221;

The Concordia Parish Mounted Patrol, a volunteer program that is an arm of the sheriffs department, is a special security force that is called upon by the sheriff when needed, Cowan said.

&8220;We meet the first Friday night of the month to schedule and talk about what we are going to do,&8221; Cowan said. &8220;It&8217;s a volunteer thing for those who do and don&8217;t want to be deputized, where you can work with horses.&8221;

Cowan said even though the option to become deputized

(to become a deputy through proper training and certification), was the members choice, all of the current members were deputies.

The mounted patrol is called in for special duty by the sheriff&8217;s office and also participates in community activities. The community

involvement including pony rides, horseback security at events and parade participation are also part of the club&8217;s work.

&8220;We do work for the sheriff&8217;s office in search and rescue and evidence searches,&8221; instructor for the mounted patrol Dennis Cowan said. &8220;It&8217;s a spin-off of the Concordia Parish riding club, but we do drills.&8221;

The drills involved are &8220;for the riders and the horses to become accustomed to each other,&8221; Marie Cowan said.

&8220;Sometimes when they do drills they sound off loud noises so that the horses won&8217;t be afraid in case they have to work a riot or something.&8221;

For those who think the club is all work and no play, Marie Cowan said not necessarily.

&8220;Sometimes they come out here and do drills and sometimes they come out here and joy ride,&8221; Marie Cowan said. &8220;The training is just to help them learn techniques so if the horses ever get in a situation they will know how to respond to each other.&8221;

The mounted patrol will also be participating in the upcoming Relay

for Life fundraiser, offering pony rides.