O’NEALS – Scores of high school students around the foothills are currently working on their senior projects, known at Minarets as a Senior Legacy Experience (SLE).
For their SLE, students on the verge of graduation are tasked to work in an area of personal or professional interest to “develop an educational experience that will impact their campus or community,” according to the school.
Samantha Russell, Minarets Class of 2015, has an event coming up this weekend, and she wants to spread the word so as many people can participate as possible.
“My senior project is a fundraising event called Horsin’ Around,” says Sam, explaining that the point of her SLE is to help promote awareness of therapy riding and to raise money for a place called Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch, located in Clovis. Horsin’ Around will be held on Sunday, Mar. 15 at the Yosemite Lakes Park Equestrian Center, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch is committed to promoting therapeutic riding as treatment for those who suffer from physical, mental or emotional disorders. They reportedly do this by developing community awareness of equine assisted and facilitated therapy.
“The fundraiser will consist of fun hands-on activities involving horses. Some activities will include grooming horses, learning the major parts of the horse, taking care of sick or injured horses, and a chance to ride like a real therapy riding session,” continues the enthusiastic organizer. “There will also be a guest speaker, different types of tack, stick horse races, and a petting zoo.”
Sam set the cost of entry is $5 and riding is an optional $3 per person or $5 for the whole family. Samantha points out that kids who dress as cowboys and cowgirls get in free. A silent auction will be on display to enhance the activities.
In addition to the fundraising event, Samantha has been volunteering her time at the Heart of the Horse.
“It is a wonderful experience and everyone there is truly amazing,” she reports. “They rely on all the volunteers there and no horse experience is necessary, everyone is welcome. All donations received go straight to the horses. The Heart of the Horse works with anyone with disabilities at any age. In addition they also work with veterans.”
Samantha has been working with horses since she was ten years old. At this point, nothing will deter her from pursuing a riding path.
“It is something I a very passionate about,” explains the Coarsegold resident. “I believe that everyone should get the chance to experience what it’s like to be around a horse and have that special connection. I’ve heard those sayings like, ‘you’re a crazy horse girl,’ or ‘horseback riding isn’t a real sport,’ but none of that really matters because the bond that is created when you trust another living thing to take care of you is unexplainable.”
Grateful for the support she’s already received from the community, Sam appreciates her advisors at school, and those at home.
“I would like to thank all of my friends and family who have been there along the way to guide me in the right directions. A big thank you to Ms. Kayla Wood, my animal anatomy teacher and adviser for this project, and to the Yosemite Lakes Park (YLP) Board and Belinda Callen for letting us use the YLP Equestrian Center.”
Samantha also wants to thank “everyone that is volunteering to help make this event successful and anyone that is planning on coming.”
Save the date and plan on some serious Horsin’ Around.