Therapeutic Riding of Tucson Development (TROT) Director Marcie Fritz-Reichenbacher assembles a holiday-themed “Deck the Stalls” Tub for Tubs Galore, the silent auction event at Horsin’ Around Under the Desert Sky on Friday, Nov. 15 at The Cottonwood Grove at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch Resort. The event seeks to raise $20,000 to benefit TROT. 

Photo courtesy TROT

“Horsin’ Around Under the Desert Sky” may sound like all fun and games, but it seeks to raise money to help provide therapy for people with special needs who use services at Therapeutic Riding of Tucson (TROT) each year.

“There is something about the human-animal connection and the movement of the horse that has dramatic results for our clients,” said Marcie Fritz-Reichenbacher, development director for TROT.

The Heroes on Horses Veterans Program helps veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and physical impairments. The program falls under TROT’s Therapeutic Riding Program along with other projects that use adaptive saddles, special lifts and other accommodations to allow TROT participants with special needs to ride horses.

The Hippotherapy Clinic, which was made possible through a 2011 grant from Angel Charities of Tucson, uses specially -trained therapists to provide speech/language, physical and occupational therapy for children and adults.

It also offers equine-facilitated psychotherapy that uses horse-centered activities in an outdoor setting to treat anxiety, addictions, grief and loss.

Additional TROT programs include Under Western Skies equine-related activities for children of servicemen and servicewomen deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and a Pony Tails summer camp for Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona.

A program slated to launch in December will partner with Tu Nidito to provide equine-facilitated psychotherapy for 25 children and their families in a bereavement group.

The continued evolution and growth is made possible primarily by volunteers, according to Executive Director Dina Scalone-Romero.

“For every student that rides, there are two volunteers walking on either side and one volunteer who handles the horse and an instructor,” she said.

Volunteers also facilitate TROT services on a budget of about $600,000 annually, according to Fritz-Reichenbacher. The nonprofit operates through grants and contributions from businesses and individuals.

Over the next few weeks, volunteers such as Mary Ann Elwood will center their energy on the upcoming fundraiser at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch Resort.

Organizers are taking a fresh approach to the auction with Tubs Galore, a silent auction that will feature at least a dozen themed tubs ranging from a James Bond martini tub and a Fruits of the Vine wine tub to a Hummingbird Haven tub containing hummingbird friendly plants and a Kentucky Bluegrass bourbon tub.

Additionally, a Vincent van Horse live auction will feature original paintings created by TROT horses and riders in collaboration with local artists.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at