When Christina Ming and Roy Sturgeon began offering riding lessons at the Flying Cross Ranch just north of Lacombe in May, they were disappointed that not everyone who wanted to could afford take advantage of their riding program.
Ming said they wanted to offer riding lessons to those who perhaps needed a little financial aid. In order to make that happen, Ming and Sturgeon created the Bud Mathes Youth Equine Foundation.
That program, which was officially launched on Sept. 13, already has six students in it.
So far, Sturgeon and Ming have been funding the program themselves, but are now looking for more people to help fund the Foundation so that they can help even more people.
“We can do so much just on our own but we can do so much more with everyone else’s help,” said Ming.
Sturgeon said he named the Foundation after his friend, Bud Mathes, who took him to races as a child and helped him develop his love of horses.
“Truthfully he was my best friend for his entire life,” said Sturgeon. “He was very important to me my whole life.”
Sturgeon added that he and Mathes’ daughter were also close friends growing up and would show horses together as children.
Ming said her desire to help children who are less fortunate when it comes to finances stems from her own experience as a child.
“For me, it’s because I was that kid,” said Ming. “I was that kid on the receiving end of that.”
Sturgeon added that for his own part, the Bud Mathes Foundation and its subsequent programs for children are his way of giving back from his successful career relating to horses.
“I’ve always done well in the horse business for the most part, it’s been good to me” said Sturgeon. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to do what I can do and I like to give back. I just think it’s important to live.”
Ming said that she has seen the joy that her daughters and Sturgeon get out of riding horses and wants to share that kind of experience, or at the least the opportunity to have it, with all children.
“I just think that every kid should have the opportunity to be around horses and ride and just have that experience,” said Ming.
Sturgeon added that horses and riding are great pastimes where no programs exist to get children involved in the sport. However, there are many programs in existence to help kids play hockey or other more popular sports. While they are great sports, Sturgeon said they aren’t for everybody.
“Not every kid wants to play hockey or ringette and there are no programs available for kids to do something like this.”
Ming added that there are programs for sick children to ride, or other therapeutic riding programs in existence, but none for children who simply have a financial barrier preventing them from riding. She said that is something she wanted to change as there are a lot of costs associate with horseback riding.
“Riding is an expensive hobby.”
As part of the official launch even held on Sept. 13, the Bud Mathes Youth Equine Foundation also hosted a fundraiser through a live and silent auction, raffles and 50/50 draw.
For more information on the Bud Mathes Youth Equine Foundation, visit www.flyingcrossranch.com.