Special Olympics stars shine at home

Thursday, September 18, 2008
The team from Hope Haven that will be competing at the Hope Haven Horse Farm Walk or Walk-Trot Showcase on Sept. 27 includes (from left) Erin Hilton, Alicia Cunningham, Jennifer Pike, Steve Overshiner, Matthew Lanz, Mary Pryor, Michelle Campbell, Allison Garceau, Doug Pettit, instructor Christy Menke and Chris Wells.

COATESVILLE -- The clients of Hope Haven Horse Farm -- a facility dedicated to providing a riding center for at-risk, low-income and special needs riders -- work hard to master equine skills.

They spend months in the arena in rural Coatesville learning how to mount and dismount and achieve the correct riding position. They perform dozens of different exercises and work on such basics as holding the reins, guiding their horses and giving verbal commands.

They work on their balance, coordination, comprehension and relaxation.

For many years, the culmination of that hard work has been the opportunity for the clients to compete at the Special Olympics.

This year, due to changes in national rules, Hope Haven was unable to take as many horses to the olympics as they had in the past. Only two Putnam County riders from Hope Haven were able to participate.

"It just broke my heart," said Christy Menke, owner and operator of Hope Haven. "They look so forward to going out and showing people what they can do."

To give those riders a chance to be a part of a show, Menke decided to organize one of her own.

The event, the Hope Haven Horse Farm Walk or Walk Trot Showcase, will feature 21 classes including showmanship, English pleasure and equitation, Western pleasure and horsemanship, drill team, Western and English trail, barrels, flags and relays.

"These kids have worked so hard," she said. "They've had 15 to 75 percent changes in their balance and coordination. They've come a long way."

Menke said 75 percent of her clients are from Putnam County. They range in age from 7 to some who are in their 40s.

"I'm real excited about the show," said client Steve Overshiner. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

Registration for the show will begin at 8 a.m., and opening ceremonies will start at 8:30 am. All entrants (or a parent or guardian for minors) must sign a liability release before registering.

Entry fee is $4 per class. All entries will be divided into independent rider and special needs rider.

The show is open to all local novice riders.

"This would be a great show for any beginning riders or green horses," Menke said. "It would be a good place for 4-H'ers to get some show practice."

The classes for the showcase are almost identical to those at the Special Olympics. Fees from the show will benefit Special Olympics.

"I don't care about the money," Menke said. "I care about these kids. What I really want is to make them more visible. I want people to come out to the show and see what they can do. I want the public to come support it."

Spectators are asked to bring chairs, as there is limited seating in the arena.

Hope Haven is located just east of the S.R. 75/U.S. 40 intersection. For more information on the showcase or any of Hope Haven's programs, call (317) 539-7162 or e-mail hopehavenfarm@hotmail.com

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  • Including the time of this event in the article would have been appropriate.

    -- Posted by cll on Fri, Sep 19, 2008, at 11:28 AM
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