85.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesProgram for Adolescents Combines Horse Care, Art

Program for Adolescents Combines Horse Care, Art

May 24, 2009 — The horses and the young men brought together Sunday afternoon at the Wintberg Riding Club were perhaps unaware of the common bond they shared, but it was clear to those who arranged the outing.
The boys are residents of the Seaview Adolescent Unit and the horses are, for the most part, retired racehorses that ended up in need of new homes. Both groups come from difficult situations and have led lives full of challenge. They have all had to overcome obstacles.
Through chance conversation, two non-profit organizations came up with an idea that would benefit many. The therapeutic value of both animals and art has long been documented, and organizers have started a project that combines both, bringing kids to the riding club to participate in hands-on care of the horses, followed by art projects created in response to their experiences with them.
Clay Lindol Jones is the founder of Seven Minus Seven Art Collective, a non-profit organization that offers assistance to artists through studio and exhibit space, equipment and materials, a youth outreach that includes after-school programs, and a summer camp. He has been working with the kids at Seaview for almost two years now, teaching them to express themselves through art.
Lynn Utech and Joan Floyd have recently formed the Island Horse Welfare Association, a non-profit organization that helps rehabilitate and care for horses in need, with the ultimate goal of getting them adopted or sent to a thoroughbred retirement farm.
Utech believes horses bring out the caring nature in people.
"Working with the horses is an empowering and confidence-building experience," she said. "The point of the outreach is to teach the kids about horses, and I want to give them something tangible with regard to horses besides just the entertainment horses provide at the racetrack."
The boys worked in pairs, with one boy grooming the horse while his partner took photos to capture the experience. They also bathed and fed the giant animals.
"I was real scared of them at first, but now I feel good," one of the boys said. "I can go near them and touch them."
Seven Minus Seven organizers are excited about bringing awareness to all three elements: the art, the horses and the kids.
"A bond forms between the kids and the horses," Jones said. "The bond is portrayed in their art. The artwork displayed reaches the community, which in turn raises awareness of the horses' plight."
The kids went from being hesitant — and perhaps a little fearful — when they arrived to asking questions about those horses they had picked as favorites. Ainsley Bevan, Residential Services Manager at the Seaview Adolescent Unit, thought the experience was invaluable for the kids.
"Horses are special because they can feel humans feelings," she said. "By seeing the horses calmed, it shows the kids that they can control their emotions."
The two non-profit agencies are hoping their collaboration will be successful in bringing awareness to the community.
"Animals, just like people, are not to be thrown away when we're done with them," Bevan said. "It is our responsibility."
Seven Minus Seven will continue to bring groups of children out to Wintberg Riding Club to work with the horses and plans to hold an exhibit of the artwork produced from the program sometime this summer.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.