Zachary McIntosh (back) and Matthew Gagnon ride horses during a visit by special-needs children organized by the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities on Monday afternoon at the Keystone Centre. (COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
With his lucky cowboy hat on, Zach McIntosh swung his leg over Chance, a nine-year-old American Painted horse, like an old pro.
"I’ve been riding here a couple of times," McIntosh said while taking part in the first of five camps hosted by the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities at the Keystone Centre on Monday.
McIntosh was all business, guiding the horse around the ring like a professional cowboy.
"I really like riding the horses and it’s a lot of fun," he said with a smile.
The week-long camp, which started yesterday, will take 10 youths on a whirlwind tour around Westman, giving them an opportunity to see and do a bunch of "cool stuff," McIntosh said.
A trip to Minnedosa beach, a stop at the reptile park, and a visit to Spruce Woods are just some of the things the kids will get an opportunity to take part in over the next week.
But on Monday, all the kids could think about were the two painted horses that stood in the ring.
"Some are a little nervous at the start, but we’re here for a couple of hours and by the end they are really comfortable and want to get on and ride," said Lindsay Wood, recreation director for SMD.
"They really enjoy the horses and we do everything we can to get them on the horses, so if they want to go for a ride, we’re going to make sure they do."
Two horses — Chance and 15-year-old, pony-horse Candy — made sure the kids all left with smiles on their faces after touring them around the arena.
"The interaction with the kids is great and since the very first year it’s just amazing to see how the kids change when they get a chance to ride," said Helen Hall, who owns Ride-A-Paint and supplied the two horses.
Some spots in the camps later this summer are still available and can be booked by registering with firstname.lastname@example.org
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 10, 2012