MANE’s “Raise the Roof” Seafood Celebration More Fun Than EVER! | The Whirl

River Region citizens gathered to show support for the area’s premier therapeutic riding facility known as Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians or “MANE.” The 13th annual “Raise the Roof” Seafood Celebration took place on Thursday, October 20th. MANE uses equine-related activities to serve area children and adults including veterans, who have physical, cognitive, emotional, and developmental disabilities, as well as at-risk youth. A fabulous seafood buffet, freshly prepared in MANE’s Poarch Creek Arena, was provided by Wintzell’s Oyster HouseBaptist Health, MAX Credit UnionSpire Energy and Alabama Power sponsored the event. 

Clear skies and cool fall temperatures added to the autumn celebration in an extraordinary setting for all to enjoy a fun-filled night with friends.  Pat Crockett, and Huntingdon College students Gabe Dunn, Abby Hoggle, Ellie Pool, Kalee Gilbert, Hannah Hollingsworth, Annika Walker, Sarah Casey, and Jayden Eutseydirected guests to park along MANE’s 3-acre sensory integration trail. Attendees were transported to the barn party on a restored antique wagon from Kickback Ranch, or on golf carts thoughtfully provided by Wynlakes. The wagon was driven by Colin Claybrook and Patrick McWhorter, while the golf carts were piloted by volunteer Susan Powe and MANE Instructor Brittany De Queiroz. 

The large sensory integration trail (SIT) has carefully designed stations featuring activities that integrate the rider’s sensory input via sight, smell, hearing, and touch. The SIT provides opportunities to enhance gravitational security, balance, grasp/release, and proprioceptive input while participants engage in therapeutic horseback riding.  For example, the giant tic-tac-toe game station was designed to challenge MANE riders’ cognitive ability to organize successful and appropriate responses to sensory input, while remaining mounted on their horse.  The double figure-eight shaped trail of crushed limestone aggregate encompasses a beautiful memorial garden, the Rotary Club covered arena, and a zone filled with colorful flexible noodles suspended in air. On the way to the party, guests passed by MANE’s smaller, shaded sensory trail, which afford riders other interactive, learning experiences and was developed by Church of the Highlands volunteers.  Students and faculty from Faulkner University recently refreshed sensory trail stations and landscape. 

 Guests were greeted at the front door to the facility by MANE’s Director Tiffany Atkinson, MANE Associate Director Abby Claybrook and MANE Volunteer Coordinator Jessica McWhorter alongside MANE Board Members Susie Wilson and Michelle Parkinson.  Tickets to the event and donations were collected at the entrance, which sported hay bales covered in mums and an eclectic mixture of sparkling fall décor, setting the tone of the festivities. 

 Party-goers proceeded through the indoor section of the complex, which houses offices, classrooms, and The Kiwanis Korral – an indoor resource room where parents and caregivers can watch riders in the adjacent covered area.  The walls of the corridor leading to the stable area were lined with “introductory boards” designed by volunteers and featuring the many faces of MANE riders, volunteers, and staff. 


Through the double doors and just beyond the Kiwanis Korral is The Kiwanis Care Korner. The “Korner” is the horse washing/grooming area, tack room, and feed storage room designed to ensure the health and safety of MANE’s horses as well as to teach students about equine care. MANE 4H Horse Club members Georgia Cauthen, Audrey McWhorter, Galyn von Gal, MacKenzie Nelson, Emma Sherwood and Maya Shaffer hosted a table to introduce guests to the MANE Horse Club and showed off their many  awards, trophies, and blue ribbons from 4H competitions.  The MANE Horse Club girls claimed the cleaning duties throughout the night, while keeping a watchful eye on MANE’s equine herd. MANE volunteer Cyndi Crockett conversed with guests about horse sponsorships and student scholarships for special needs and at-risk youth. 

 Pat and Cyndi Crockett, Ken Furman,Montgomery Co. Farmer’s Federation, Ronald and Jennie Botterbosch, Richard and Kay Keeshan, The Sloan Family, Gabe and Brent Krause, Maggie Thompson, Brelinda Webster, Huck, Hamp & John Charles Howell, Joey and Carrie Cauthen, The Tatum Family, Jack and Kim Golson, Sue Bell Cobb, Bentt Spear, Double B Ranch- Julie Beasley, and Bill Gaston collectively sponsored all of MANE’s equine partners for the coming year. Community contributors to MANE and the MANE class scholarship program include Melissa Eubanks, Paul and Connie Winn, The Betzler Family, William Martin, and Coleen and Warren Walhaug.

 After visiting with MANE’s horses, guests headed to the Poarch Creek Arena, where Wintzell’s Oyster House was preparing a fresh feast.  The feast included an array of grilled and fresh oysters, fish, chicken, and shrimp. Wintzell’s Oyster House also served their famous sides such as coleslaw, cheese grits, and scrumptious bread pudding. At an ice-filled food station, Wintzell’s well-trained culinary brigade shucked raw oysters, harvested from the Gulf earlier in the day. 

 The arena’s décor was designed and implemented by Wynlakes’ multi-talented Joe O’Hara. Dining tables were dressed in festive orange and black tablecloths and topped with a variety of colorful, paper lanterns, twinkling lights, and autumn foliage. In a twist on the traditional, bamboo harvested from MANE’s own property suspended the lanterns high above rustic baskets overflowing with fresh hay. Volunteers Janet Treat, William Martin, Alan Todd and Diane Waters assisted with the installation of Joe’s designs.  Stivers Ford displayed one of their shiny black trucks in the arena, to help sponsor the event and attract buyers. Toes tapped to country music favorites from the Trotline Band as guests dined, mingled, made new acquaintances, danced the night away, and truly raised the bar for barn parties everywhere. 


MANE’s Annual Raise the Roof Event attracts attendees who share an appreciation for the educational, life-changing benefits of MANE’s therapeutic riding programs, designed for special needs individuals as well as at-risk youth. Other MANE board members attending the party wereKelly Wilson, Stephanie Maddox, Heather King, Katharine Harris, Chief Mike Ward, Sandra Stenger, Jim Edwards and Cheri Jordan. Community supporters in attendance also included Patrick Harris, Paul and Connie Winn, Kappy and Weldon Doe, Jerry and Bonnie Moore, Charlotte Gaston,  Lisa Hill, Tonya Barkum, John Ed Mathison, Mayor Gordon Stone, Will Wilson, William Haynes, Bill and Julia Wallace, Will Ward, Bentt Spear, Clint and Catherine Ellis, Sam and Susan Wainwright, Roderick DuBose, Jay and Jolene Custard, Sir Turnipseed, Mike and Rebecca Ellis, Aubrey DuBose, Carl and Aenita Bartlett, Steve Cutler, Anne Poundstone, Ronnie and Jennie Botterbusch, Peggy and Cliff Heard, Billy Livings, Bill and Sue Bell Cobb, Judge Jimmy and Carol Pool, Hannah Bailey, John and Jenny Ives, Graham and Leigh Esdale, Senator Will Barfoot, Gana Dismoke. Other volunteers that ensured the night ran smoothly behind the scenes were Barbara Wallace and Dianne Waters

MANE volunteers are the backbone of this program, working countless hours throughout the year and in preparation of events. Volunteers of all ages and skills are needed to assist riders, help maintain the facility, and work with horses, either on a weekly basis for classes. Community leaders, retired citizens, and students donate many hours and immeasurable knowledge and encouragement to program participants each year. Often, volunteers are introduced to MANE by attending events such as Raise the Roof.  Others volunteer at MANE to fulfill their desire to help individuals with challenges, become better acquainted with horses, or share their love of the equine world. MANE’s equine-related activities can produce improved mobility, balance, posture, coordination, language development, motivation, independence, self-discipline, concentration, and life-skill competencies.  These benefits are derived from the transfer of movement from horse to rider as well as from the opportunities for social interaction, education, recreation, and therapy.


For more information about MANE, please visit MANE’s website at To volunteer, please call 334-213-0909 or email [email protected] .  For program information, please email [email protected] . Donations can be sent to: MANE, 3699 Wallahatchie Road, Pike Road, AL 36064. MANE holds a 501C3 corporation status and its instructors are certified through PATH Intl., a regulatory agency that assures stringent standards for quality therapeutic horseback riding through instructor certification, site accreditation and program monitoring.