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By Shawn Raymundo

The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center on Wednesday, Aug. 14, welcomed several children to take part in its annual Cowboy Camp where the kids got to learn ranched-based skills from local cowboys.

Gilbert Aguirre, executive vice president of ranch operations at Rancho Mission Viejo, was one of those local cowboys who worked with the kids, teaching them how to properly use a lasso and rope a “steer”—in this case a fake one.

“Well, obviously we want to donate to Shea and help them out. This is a good way to help them out. This is kind of fantasy deal, (the kids) like cowboys and we can add a little color to it,” Aguirre said, adding, “It’s just our way of helping out a little bit.”

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The Shea Center provides rehabilitative programs for those with disabilities through equine-based therapy, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy. The center is supported primarily through the donations of private citizens.

Much of the proceeds from the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, the two-day annual event that will be held at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park on Aug. 24 and 25, goes to benefit the Shea Center, Aguirre notes.

Since its inception in 2001, the rodeo has raised more than $2.4 million in proceeds that have been donated to local charities such the Shea Center, CHOC Children’s Mission Hospital and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley, according to The Ranch.

While held in conjunction ahead of this month’s annual RMV Rodeo, the Cowboy Camp is also an extension of Shea’s summer camp session. Clients of the equestrian center, as well as other children, through invitation, were able to participate and—as the saying goes—“learn the ropes” of rodeo.

Dana Butler-Moburg, executive director for the Shea Center, said the skills gained from the roping lessons are similar to the types of therapy the Shea Center conducts with its clients. And part of the fun of the event, she added, is getting to witness the children playing with each other.

“These skills are wonderful for balance and coordination,” she said, later stating that the Cowboy Camp is a “way to celebrate the extraordinary support (the RMV Rodeo) has given us throughout the years.”


SR_1Shawn Raymundo
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow The Dispatch @CapoDispatch.

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