Sebonack Golf Club event benefits therapeutic riding center

Horses Changing Lives

The Center for Therapeutic Riding of the East End will host its annual Horses Changing Lives benefit on Thursday, August 23, from 6 to 9 PM at Sebonack Golf Club.

It is the leading fundraising event for CTREE, a not-for-profit organization operating out of Wölffer Estate Stables in Sagaponack. CTREE provides the East End with therapeutic riding lessons and equine assisted activities, available to anyone with cognitive, physical, or emotional disabilities.

Amanda Ross founded the therapeutic riding center in 2009 with only two horses and two participants. In the nine years since, CTREE has grown to 50 to 60 participants annually, with 25 to 30 volunteers, and four therapeutic horses. Programs include special equine assistance for veterans, known as CTREE Patriots, and assisted learning with local schools for special needs or at-risk students.

Tami Maines, event co-chair and a board member for CTREE, stated, “I believe in the work of CTREE and Therapeutic Riding. We are lucky to have such an amazing program like CTREE in the Hamptons to assist families with their loved ones who have disabilities. Horses are very empathetic animals. You don’t have to say anything and the horse feels your emotions. It’s wonderful seeing our students thrive, learn new skills, improve their communication skills, build trust, improve their physical strength, overcome their fears, and smile when they are around the horses.”

Becky Gaynor, CTREE’s board president, attested to horses’ healing qualities. “They comfort me and are my best friends. They teach patience, empathy, cause and effect. And they know all my secrets. They are one of the greatest creatures on this Earth and I couldn’t live without them.”

As the only Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Premier Accredited Center in Suffolk County, the center only operates 36 weeks out of the year, making it especially important for those with needs to take advantage of the services offered. CTREE retains five part-time employees, 12 active directors, and six advisory board directors, who actively seek to help as many as possible.

“I have been part of the CTREE family since the beginning in 2009, serving as a volunteer, board director, officer, and now co-chair of its most important fundraiser,” said Diana Shiel, Horses Changing Lives co-chair and member of CTREE’s board of directors. “One of the most gratifying and rewarding jobs is being a lesson volunteer. It has changed me into a better, more compassionate, appreciative, and patient individual. The greatest gift is hearing a child speak for the first time, or a rider’s parent say, ‘This is the best part of my child’s day.’”

The Latin-themed evening of Horses Changing Lives will feature Brazilian Bossa Nova music by Ludmilla Brazil, signature cocktails sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, food stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and live auction with winemaker and auctioneer Roman Roth from Wölffer Estate.

This year’s silent auction debuted online a week prior, allowing guests and those who cannot otherwise attend the benefit the opportunity to preview “the best of the Hamptons” services, art, restaurants, unique experiences, and more. The silent auction will go live at 9 AM the day of event. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase a $100 raffle ticket on site for a chance at winning an Hermes Birkin handbag.

Tickets for the benefit start at $250 each, with all proceeds benefitting CTREE. Sebonack Golf Club is located at 405 Sebonack Road in Southampton. Visit or call 631-779-2835 for more information. All lessons are held at 41 Narrow Lane in Sagaponack.