HOULTON, Maine — A non-profit organization formed by a network of volunteers to provide equine services will begin hosting new programs next week for children throughout the region.
Manes and Tails will host its first summer leadership camp for youth ages 8 to 14-years-old on July 8. The two-week-long experience will be held at the organization’s 560 North St. location, which is the former home of Shiretown Stables.
Jessica York, vice president of Manes and Tails, said Friday that youth will focus on a number of equine skills during the camp, including mindful reflection, relationship building between human and horse and independent living skills. Participants will enjoy yoga, meditation, journaling, identifying wild edibles and gardening.
“We are very excited about this,” said York. “There is so much that we want to pass on to the kids who take part, and we are very fortunate to have scholarships available to allow more youth to experience it.”
Last fall, the organization received a $50,0000 Maine Community Development Block grant to support the expansion of equine-assisted learning and therapy programs targeting youth from low- to moderate-income families.
The money also is enabling Manes and Tails to expand scholarship opportunities for children.
“The youth in the program will begin the camp by picking out a horse to work with,” York explained. “While they will not be riding the horse, they will be doing a lot of hands on ground work with the animals.”
The new camp comes on the heels of a fundamentals training provided to the organization by the Natural Lifemanship Institute.
York said that it was “a tremendous honor” to have trainers instruct participants on trauma awareness, attachment issues, the neuroscience of the brain and how the brain reacts in equine assisted learning facilities. Sixteen people took part, including Manes and Tails volunteers and community members.
Shelley Taylor, president of Manes and Tails, said that she was “really inspired” by everything that she learned from the training.
“It taught me more about horses and about myself,” she said. “It was unbelievable to have the trainers right here, especially since it was their first time in Maine. They had never gone farther north than Pennsylvania before.”
York added that the organization also recently secured a wheelchair ramp that will enable them to facilitate therapy for motor-challenged clients. The ramp was purchased with funding from the Putnam Trust Foundation and Acadia Medical Supply.
Along with the leadership camps, Manes and Tails will be offering a farm life skills clinic, pony camp and trail riding lessons this summer and fall.Leadership camp dates are July 8-19 and Aug. 5-16. Anyone interested can email ShelleyTay1952@gmail.com or message the organization through its Facebook page .