Weston rider and pony club raise funds for Embrace Hope

Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club, left to right, Will Hathaway (Newtown), Aundrea Lagana (Weston), Rebecca Hathaway (Newtown), Cayla Noble (Easton), Kaeleigh Pollard (Westport), Isabel Lichtman, Janelle Wargo, Emily Whittaker and Mia Auray (all from Easton)

Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club, left to right, Will Hathaway (Newtown), Aundrea Lagana (Weston), Rebecca Hathaway (Newtown), Cayla Noble (Easton), Kaeleigh Pollard (Westport), Isabel Lichtman, Janelle Wargo, Emily Whittaker and Mia Auray (all from Easton)

The Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club, (including a rider from Weston), an affiliate of United States Pony Clubs Inc., sponsored a cross-country clinic fund-raiser for Embrace Hope — Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy, a non-profit foundation that started in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The Embrace Hope Foundation is a partnership between Zoar Ridge Stables in Sandy Hook, owned by Annette and Brian Sullivan, and the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

The equine facilitated psychotherapy program specializes in children and trauma, combining a mental health professional with an equine specialist and horses. Practitioners use horses in their sessions to address specific client emotional needs as they struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome, grief, anxiety and depression.

Activities provide children the opportunity to bond with the horses and relate their feelings in a setting outside of traditional talk therapy. Horses and a form of play therapy make healing an interactive activity, focused at reestablishing self esteem, confidence and trust.

Rebecca Howard Hathaway, an equine expert, natural horsemanship trainer, pony club instructor and examiner, is a resident of Newtown/Shady Hill Farm and a former “pony clubber.” She volunteered her time and expertise to conduct the two-day cross-country clinic for 21 riders, including nine Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club members.

Riders took part in learning strategies to improve riding skills and confidence in a large hunt field, jumping natural obstacles. Zoar Ridge Stables hosted the clinic on its 30 acres.

A total of $1,600 was raised at the clinic. All proceeds benefit Embrace Hope’s most basic needs, which include horse feed, veterinary care, facility upkeep, insurance and professional therapy sessions.

Nine members participated in the fund-raiser:

Will Hathaway (Newtown), Aundrea Lagana (Weston), Rebecca Hathaway (Newtown), Cayla Noble (Easton), Kaeleigh Pollard (Westport), Isabel Lichtman, Janelle Wargo, Emily Whittaker, Mia Auray (all from Easton), Kiera Henry (Norwalk) and horses Tiggy, Phyllis, Hi-Fi, Patrick, Flare & Tori.

For more information contact Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club by sending an email to Kelly Pollard ([email protected]) or Rebecca Hathaway ([email protected]); or Zoar Ridge Stables/Embrace Hope Foundation, email Annette Sullivan (embracehopesandyhook.org)

Fairfield County Hounds Pony Club is a non-profit organization that teaches horsemanship to youth members up to age 25. Along with an emphasis on helping its members learn to ride and care for horses, Pony Club promotes teamwork, a sense of responsibility, safety, good moral judgment, self-confidence and land conservation. For more information visit fairfieldponyclub.com

United States Pony Clubs Inc. was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit national youth organization to teach riding and horsemanship through a formal educational program. Many of the nation’s top equestrians, including many Olympic team members and many business professionals, government leaders and career military officers, have roots in Pony Club.

There are approximately 10,000 members in 600 clubs and riding centers in 43 regions throughout the country. For more information about USPC please visit ponyclub.org

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