Building confidence with horseback riding Submitted: 08/02/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Building confidence with horseback riding
Photos By Shardaa Gray

WOODRUFF - Animals can make humans feel better.

The relationship can even be a form of therapy.

Sarah Nei has Down syndrome.

She's built a lot of confidence over the last two years.

It's all thanks to a program in Woodruff called Hoof Prints of Hope.

"The purpose is to connect kids and horses and to help kids come out of their shell." said Hoof Prints of Hope Director, Cheryl Vos.

Vos started horseback riding lessons three years ago to help developmentally challenged kids.

"The riding program helps in a way that when a kid rides, the movement of the horse mimics our movement and it creates muscle memory," Vos said.

"So for them it changes their gait."

Sarah's mom has seen drastic improvement since Sarah first started.

"It shows me that she is capable of interacting with others. Capable of asking for what she wants." Dawn Nei said.

Students like Sarah aren't the only people benefiting from this program.

"If like there's people in my classroom or something, it kind of has the same thing as them. I can kind of help them because I know from this opportunity." said volunteer, Ashley Marquardt.

Someday, Vos wants to have her own ranch.

She would devote it to helping developmentally challenged kids and at-risk young adults.

"My goal is not to make a ton of money at this," Vos said.

"It's never been my goal. My goal is just to help kids and families."

Classes are every Monday at the Double D Ranch.

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


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WAUSAU - When you think of Wisconsin, two things might come to mind - beer and snow. 

The Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau decided to combine the two and host an annual brew fest. 

Andy Ledesma is the head brewer at Red Eye Brewing Company in Wausau. The Granite Peak Brew Fest is one of the many perks of his job.

"No other beer fest is like this, that's for sure," said Ledesma.

He definitely wasn't alone serving more than 40 beers on Saturday. 

Jeff Geurink works for South Shore Brewery in Ashland. They've been around for 20 years, but they wanted to make this brew fest a part of their line up.

"Get our name out there and make sure people are enjoying our beer and get as much information as possible out about our brewery so then when they go out and get a beer, they remember us," said Geurink.

Something everyone will remember from the brew fest was the set-up.

"Snow bar?! You can't get that in the summer time," said Roland Bruhnke.

He's right. Most beer festivals are in the summer. But when it's still feeling like winter in March, Granite Peak turns lemons into lemonade, or more appropriately, hops into beer.

"I think it definitely helped that when they get to the bottom of the hill, you see a bunch of beer," said beer salesman Jesse Bartnik.

So even though beer and physical activity isn't the best combination, dozens of people were loving it this weekend.

"The winter, the skiing, the beer, it's all one big package all rolled into one," said Bruhnke.

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RHINELANDER - This time of year, winter activies start to wind down and the summer fun hasn't quite started yet.

That's why Fisher's Resort and Bar on Lake George in Rhinelander enjoys having it's annual ice golf tournament each year.

"In year's past, March is always kind of a slower season up here in the Northwoods so we figured we'd create an event and put efforts towards a local organization," said Fisher's Resort and Bar owner, Russ Fisher.

That local organization they raise money for is the Hodag Sno-trails snowmobile club.

This year, the tournament had it's biggest turn out.

30 teams came to play, including first timer Dennis Herrmann who lives right across the lake.

"This has nothing to do with golf, I can tell you that right now. But it's a challenge for all the obvious reasons. But you do it for the charity, you do it for the fun and it gives everybody the chance to get out," said Herrmann.

This year they cut it down from 18 holes to 13 so people could get inside faster to enjoy the chili and the raffle items after their round of golf.

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TOMAHAWK - Two best friends turned into business partners about a year ago.

Bill Eastwood and Blake McMahon own Outboards Bar and Grill in Tomahawk.

The duo's combined restaurant and business experience helped them hit the ground running.

Fish quality comes first at Outboards.

"Friday night is the night that pretty much everyone goes out to eat. So if you don't have a good fish fry, people around here start talking!" say Eastwood.

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MADISON - The Conservation Congress plans to ask attendees at its spring hearings whether lawmakers should charge people to use state land and eliminate group hunting.

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The Crandon School Board voted unanimously Friday evening to change the wording of superintendent Dr. Doug Kryder's absence from the district.

Kryder is now on "paid administrative leave." Originally, he had been "suspended with pay."

The board said it made the change based on advice of its lawyer. The board met for two and a half hours in closed session on Friday.

Kryder is under investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

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