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Horses of Hope celebrating 10 years of service

PHOTO PROVIDED The nonprofit program Horses of Hope has started its 10th season.

MACKEYVILLE – Horses of Hope, a non-profit that assists people through equine-assisted activities, has begun its 10th year of service to the greater community last month.

The program began in 2009 with three riders and one horse. Today, there are approximately 62 riders and five horses at the facility in Mackeyville.

“We started Horses of Hope because there was no one in the surrounding area offering these unique services for individuals with special needs,” said Horses of Hope executive director Laurie Flanagan. “We are so grateful to those who support us through various means so we could reach our 10th season. We look forward to this special year, as well as the future in serving individuals of all ages with a variety of special needs.”

The program also offers an avenue for past and present military personnel, called Heroes & Horses. Vickie Hancock, program director for Horses of Hope, founded the Heroes & Horses program in 2015. Last year, 12 veterans took part in the equine-assisted activities. This year, 21 veterans are registered.

“Giving back to our veterans, after the sacrifices they have made for all of us, is the inspiration behind Heroes & Horses,” Hancock said.

Horses of Hope operates in Mackeyville, off Stoltzfus Lane, on the property of Kyle and Susan Johnston. The 10-acre farm offers beautiful views of other area farms and the Belles Springs Golf Course.

HOH is a partner agency of the Clinton County Untied Way and collaborates with Clinton County Community Connections, Lock Haven University and the Clinton County Veteran’s Affairs office. It is a member of PATH International, which provides therapeutic riding facilities with stands for programming, facilities, and horses and offers workshops and certification for instructors.

The Horses of Hope instructors, Chuck Feighner and Kim Roush, bring a combined 28 years of equestrian experience to the programs and have helped participants make amazing strides as they improve their core strength, balance, self-esteem and riding skills.

Horses of Hope began the new riding season in April. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with lessons, caring for the horses, fundraising, special events, or riding in the program, visit the website at www.horsesofhope.org. Donations are accepted online or by mail at P.O. Box 94, Lock Haven, Pa. 17745. For those wishing to volunteer, a volunteer packet is available on the website along with participant packets and community rider’s packets.

“All of the support has been amazing,” Flanagan said. “We started with a dream to help individuals in Clinton County and the surrounding areas and we have now started our 10th season. We hope to continue to grow and serve our community as best we can.”

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