Alamo resident Heidi Koch has long enjoyed keeping her horses at Summit Ranch in Alamo, where she relishes meandering with them, exploring the scenic beauty enveloping the foothills of Mt. Diablo.

She also treasures the time she spends giving riding lessons. Her husband, Andreas, also shares her passion. A while back, I wrote about Andreas, who has created musical DVDs depicting Mt. Diablo, horses and the Old West and has shown his work throughout the Valley, including twice at the Alamo Women's Club's Cowboy Poetry events. You can get an update about his work at www.andreas@akdesigninc.com. Heidi's equestrian fondness spills over to her friends as well. Alamo resident Lisa Brereton who has boarded horses at Summit Ranch, told me that Heidi is enthusiastic about her job.

"Heidi is amazing with her horseback riding students and teaches them everything about horses, not just how to ride. She is very dependable and is a true horsewoman, and I am lucky to be her friend," said Lisa.

Heidi's commitment to horses and teaching go beyond Alamo to the Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda, where for the past eight years she has also been teaching, along with the same number of certified instructors. I finally caught up with this busy woman who even finds time to help out her friends, Connie and Jim Petersen, at the Alamo Flower Company before Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.

While arranging gorgeous floral bouquets, she told me, "I love my work with the special needs children. The horses are amazing and bring much joy to the children and their families," said Heidi, who told me clients number around 40 and that there is a waiting list. "The opportunity to ride a horse gives these young riders countless benefits such as self-esteem, confidence, mobility, balance, muscle tone and many cognitive and physical improvements and, of course, pride and joy," she added.

Heidi was excited to share about the annual fundraiser for Therapeutic Riding Center, which will take place March 9 at Round Hill Country Club in Alamo again this year, with the theme "A Night On Broadway."

"As a resident of Alamo and an instructor at the Therapeutic Riding Center, I hope to see many familiar faces at the upcoming Gala," said Heidi. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is $100 per person, which includes dinner, dancing and live and silent auctions with "one-of-a-kind items, enticing packages and destinations."

Heidi passed along some information from Mari Parino, the riding center's executive director, about Xenophon and the fundraiser: "We offer life-changing experiences for children with a wide range of disabilities. We provide therapeutic horseback riding in a safe and secure environment. Our children achieve goals that they never before dreamed possible. We focus on enhancing their unique abilities. With a horse as their guide, there is no limit to what they can achieve."

Mari also encourages the community to attend the Gala at Round Hill.

"By supporting this event, you will directly impact the lives of the special children that participate in our program," she also said.

For tickets and more information, go to www.xenophontrc.org. According to their mission statement, "Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled children by providing a high-quality program of therapeutic horseback riding and related activities."

Heidi told me the organization is grateful for all the volunteers who help keep the program going.

"We are wonderfully supported by the local business community, including Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions Club and are blessed to have over 100 volunteers to help us run our program," she added.

Heidi said she is looking forward to a great turnout at the March 9 gala, and it is evident she thrives at what she does.

"I love spending time with kids and horses, be it at the Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda or at Summit Ranch in Alamo," she said.

Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- alamo@hotmail.com.