The new program is seeking donations to fund the activities.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
FOWLER -- Volunteers help hoist young girls on to the saddles, congratulating them when their feet are placed in the stirrups.
Many of the girls look confident their first time on horseback.
Their excitement with the new experience shows in their smiles as they call out to each other while navigating the horses around barrels.
The Horsen Around Camp at Double Stuff Farm, 2962 Sodom Hutchings Road, opened last week with the hopes of boosting the confidence of underprivileged children in Trumbull County.
The new nonprofit organization is teaching children from Trumbull County Children Services how to ride and care for horses this summer.
The program already is showing positive results.
"A mom called and said her son had never been so proud of himself," Rainy Bowers, owner of the farm who started the program, said about the first group of six boys that rode horses last Monday. "You could tell by the children's faces that they loved it. Their supervisor said they can't wait to come back."
Rainy and her husband, Bill, said they wanted to do something that would give back to the community.
"We have all these facilities, and we just thought we should share it," Bill said.
The program has three sessions: one Monday for younger boys, one Thursday morning for younger girls, and one Thursday evenings for children 14 to 17 years old.
Twenty-three children and 30 volunteers are involved in the program this summer, Bowers said, adding that most of the volunteers are friends and family.
Bowers' sister, Diane Knepper, sits on a white lawn chair, watching the group of girls ride horses for the first time. She grins as she talks to Alyson Rossi, a supervisor from Trumbull County Children Services.
Knepper points out a girl that looks like a natural riding a horse.
"She does, but she's not afraid of anything," Rossi said, laughing.
Rossi later said that many of the children are from Warren and never had experiences like this.
"I think they like it. It's something to occupy their time during the summer," Rossi said.
Knepper is in charge of hosting sing-a-longs and an arts and crafts session with the children.
"My sister asked me if I would help, and I told her I would have to think about it," Knepper said. "I thought about it for, oh, two seconds, and then I said, 'Yes, I would definitely want to do that."
This week children made stepping stones with their names on them to place around the farm.
"I want them to use their imagination and have something they can take home and say, 'Look what I made,'" Knepper said.
Knepper also wrote a theme song for the camp that she tried to sing with the boys Monday.
"The boys did real good. I think the girls will like the singing a little better," Knepper said and then laughed.
As Rossi and Knepper watch the girls ride, Katie Watson, a volunteer and friend of Rainy, takes pictures.
"It was so wonderful with the boys on Monday," Watson said. "I took pictures, and you can just tell they had a good time."
Watson said the boys' supervisor said the boys always fight because they are always together.
"But when you looked at them Monday, they seemed so interested," Watson said, adding that the boys got along with each other well.
With camera in hand, Watson walks over to the area where young girls are becoming more experienced riders, hoping to catch some more smiles.
Funding the project
The Horsen Around Camp is accepting donations to keep the program running.
The program will hold a silent auction in the fall and a golf tournament in the spring at Walnut Run in Cortland.
"All the donations go to the kids," Watson said. "We don't charge anything."
Anyone interested in donating to the program can contact Rainy Bowers at (330) 637-9318 or Katie Watson at (330) 637-7710.
Watson said people can also donate supplies for the program, adding that someone called wanting to donate a horse.
"I don't have a big enough barn for another horse," Rainy said. "If they want to transport the horse back and forth ..." Rainy said jokingly before trailing off.
People who know children who would benefit from the program also can call Bowers or Watson; however, the program prefers to work with organizations.
"We have seven horses, so we can have seven children here," Watson said.