Conscious Party: The Mane Event

HORSE WHISPERER: A Children First/Communities In Schools student participates in a Heart of Horse Sense program. The equine therapy nonprofit's Mane Event fundraiser takes place June 9 on its Marshall farm.
HORSE WHISPERER: A Children First/Communities In Schools student participates in a Heart of Horse Sense program. The equine therapy nonprofit's Mane Event fundraiser takes place June 9 on its Marshall farm. Photo courtesy of Children First/CIS

WHAT: An afternoon of family-friendly activities and demonstrations to benefit Heart of Horse Sense

WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 1-5 p.m.

WHERE: Horse Sense of the Carolinas, 6919 Meadows Town Road, Marshall

WHY: Heart of Horse Sense’s inaugural Mane Event fundraiser in 2017 provided an opportunity for the community to visit the nonprofit’s Marshall farm, see its horses and learn about the organization’s equine therapy offerings, provided at no cost to veterans, their families and at-risk youths.

For its sophomore event on Saturday, June 9, the group has added new activities that engage people in its vision and mission, the likes of which Heart of Horse Sense Executive Director Shannon Knapp says are unavailable anywhere else.

Demonstrations that inform attendees about equine-assisted learning and rhythmic riding are the cornerstones of the family-friendly afternoon. There will also be a scavenger hunt, during which children and adults participate in activities around the farm.

“There’s going to be things like participate in farm animal yoga, rope a cow, learn how to greet horse, i.e. learn what a ‘horseman’s handshake’ is,” Knapp says.

Other boxes on the checklist include painting a horseshoe, meeting miniature horses and completing a human obstacle course that involves leaping over mini-jump standards. The activities will be going on throughout the day, and everyone who completes the quest will be entered into a drawing to be the participant in the rhythmic riding demonstration at 3:30 p.m.

Carrot and celery sticks and Roots Hummus will be available at no cost, and a portion of sales of healthy snacks from local company The Nibble and Sip will be donated to Heart of Horse Sense. Returning from last year and providing music is Smokey Mountain Rhythm, a bluegrass/country band composed of veterans, one of two populations Heart of Horse Sense is dedicated to serving.

Funds raised from The Mane Event will help Heart of Horse Sense in its efforts to work with more at-risk youths, building on relationships with Children First/Communities In Schools and making connections with new programs in Shiloh and at the YWCA.

“It’s not petting horses and feeling better. If that’s all it was, that’s a pretty easy fix. The work that we’re up to here is interacting with horses to build healthy skills — healthy communication skills, healthy self-advocacy skills, healthy assertiveness skills. If you can do those things with a thousand-pound animal, you can do those things pretty much anywhere,” Knapp says.

“To practice those skills here is basically [the adage] ‘teach a man to fish.’ Petting horses and feeling better is ‘give a man a fish,’ and that’s great, but when the fish is gone and the horse is gone, so is the good feeling. We want to make a difference long term.”

The Mane Event takes place Saturday, June 9, 1-5 p.m. at Horse Sense of the Carolinas, 6919 Meadows Town Road, Marshall. $5 for children under age 12, $10 regular admission. heartofhorsesense.org

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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