Plop Drop helps riding center Isaac recovery

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

By David Vitrano

LAPLACE – A smattering of children and supporters of the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center gathered on its quiet, tucked-away grounds in LaPlace recently for the organization’s annual Plop Drop fundraiser.
According to Executive Director Anita Hefler, the fundraiser did well this year, selling out of one block of tickets for the main event in which those who purchase squares hope a horse “chooses” their square.
There were two “ploppers” for this year’s event, Music in blue and Patches in pink.
The support the center receives from the annual benefit is particularly needed this year as the GNOTRC is still struggling to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac.
“We had up to four feet of water,” said Hefler. “Thankfully, all of our tack was off the ground.”
Among the losses incurred from the storm were 100 bales of hay, several trees and general water damage to structures on the property.
“I’m still finding stuff that got wet in here,” she said.
Plus the storm took an emotional toll on the animals.
“We couldn’t put the horses back in the contaminated field for three months,” she said, noting that three of the center’s horses each lost 150 pounds because of disruptions to the normal feeding routine.
“Horses were chasing other horses away from the hay,” she said.
Hefler said the LSU veterinary school and local businesses and charitable organizations helped in the recovery, and the GNOTRC finally started classes again in January.
“We’re back in the saddle,” Hefler said with a smirk.
With the Plop Drop, which also featured games such as the cow patty toss and “Poo-poo putt-putt,” behind the GNOTRC for another year, Hefler and her associates have turned their attention to the center’s second major fundraiser of the year, Harley for Horses.
The motorcycle run will take place April 21 and will leave from the LaPlace Travel Center on U.S. Highway 51 just north of Interstate 10. Harley for Horses will take riders to Port Vincent, where they will stop at Fred’s for lunch, and then back to LaPlace for a celebration at Fatty’s on Main Street in LaPlace.
This year’s ride will be dedicated to Brandon Nielsen, one of the St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputies who lost their lives during the ambush of Aug. 16, 2012. Hefler said she will always be in debt to Nielsen because of the help he gave in providing a police escort for the annual motorcycle ride.
“I never, ever had to worry about it,” she said.
Hefler said some members of Nielsen’s family even plan to ride this year.
“I’m very honored,” she said.  
Riders can register for the event online or by downloading the entry form at Those who preregister by April 6 will receive a commemorative T-shirt.
Although riders will get into the after-party at Fatty’s free, the general public is invited to come to the party at 3 p.m. April 21 to share in the food, music and fun. Admission for non-riders is $10, with proceeds benefitting the families of the fallen deputies.