(MEMPHIS, TN) – Kirby Dobbs Floyd and her husband Glenn, both of whom dreamed of using their horse farm to help people with disabilities tackle their physical and emotional challenges, came one step closer as 900 well-dressed Memphians gathered to watch “The Run for the Roses” at the inaugural Jockeys and Juleps event to raise a hearty six-figures for the Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy.
In 2015 the Floyds joined forces with a handful of civic-minded equestrians with a simple goal in mind: to give children and their families an opportunity to use horses to heal the mind, body and soul. At that moment, the program was born. With a goal to provide equine-assisted activities for people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities throughout the Mid-South, Southern Reins has grown from 13 riders to 35 – yet without significant funds, the horses, hay and help required to meet those needs for continued growth would be stymied.
“We saw first-hand how equine therapy could change lives,” said Floyd. “And we are very thankful and grateful to be able to offer this service to our Mid-South community. The need is so great, and we are making incredible strides in helping people with disabilities through therapeutic riding.”
So what did this group of motivated women do? What any southern belles would; they threw a party.
Within a couple of months, dozens of businesses such as FTB Advisors, Lexus of Memphis and Dobbs Management Services were on board with other companies and community volunteers close behind.
“We had a really strong team and everyone brought a different skill set to the table,” noted Courtney Smith, one of Southern Reins’ co-founders. “I grew up riding and got my masters in special education. Bridgett Ternary, Kim Jordan and Kirby were riders too. All the pieces just came together. This really was a ‘God’ thing.”
Bulleit Bourbon and Buster’s Wine & Liquors, along with bartenders from The University Club of Memphis, supplied all the necessary ingredients for a race-worthy Mint Julep at the five open bars strategically placed on grounds of the elegant East Memphis Dobbs’ family estate where Kirby and her siblings grew up.
Turning into the long, winding driveway, guests made their way past two therapy ponies where members of Longreen Foxhounds were onsite in their striking red riding coats atop their elegant mounts. Passing through the main house’s grand double doors en route to the property’s backyard stood an enormous theatre sized screen and several smaller monitors showcasing horse racing’s most exciting two minutes.
In addition to their Kentucky Derby betting purses, race fans were encouraged to bring their appetites, and everyone was treated to a variety of southern fare that included golden fried legs and wings from Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, beef sliders from Belly Acres, award winning Memphis barbeque, along with a number of other sandwiches and desserts by many of Memphis’ top restaurants and chefs.
And no respectable Derby party would be complete without a double shot of high fashion and patrons of Jockeys & Juleps did not disappoint.
Gentlemen donned their finest racing attire ranging from seersucker and white bucks to Vineyard Vines derby themed bow ties and elegant sport coats from Oak Hall Clothiers worthy of making the trek to the betting window or winner’s circle.
Not to be outdone, ladies’ high fashion was on full view with Dinah Makowsky themed hats topping a variety of colorful dresses by Trina Turk, Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines suitable of any Louisville brunch or grandstand suite.
As the last guests departed, everyone was asking if Jockeys and Juleps would become an early May Memphis tradition?
“Absolutely,” said Floyd. “Many of our sponsors have already renewed their support for next year and we’re already planning for the 2017 party. And in the meantime, many more kids and families will be living a better life through our program – thanks to the generosity of this wonderful community.”
Paul Stanley is a seventh generation southerner whose passion for the South and southern lifestyles are profiled at OneSouthernMan.com.