January 03, 2018 09:31 AM
A local nonprofit aiming to build character in city kids through horseback riding could be on their last lap.
A Horse's Friend is tucked away at High View Farms in Pittsford. Owner Jack Frohm has to sell the farm, meaning A Horse's Friend is in danger of losing its location. The group, currently on a month-to-month lease at the farm, has provided thousands of Rochester kids like Toni Ayala the chance to learn to ride horses for free, keeping them out of trouble.
"We get to enjoy riding horses and we have people to teach us," Ayala said. "This program helps people learn what to do and what not to do when you're near horses."
Ayala is trained by volunteers like college student Erin Murphy, who also went through the program.
"The most rewarding part is working with the other students and knowing I was once in their position and seeing where I am today and knowing they can get here," Murphy said.
When the farm is sold, A Horse's Friend will be out of their location, unless they raise nearly $1 million to buy it. Founder Matthew Doward says the loss would leave a big void in the community.
"It would be devastating, there's no way around it," Doward said. "But the biggest thing is that urban kids would not get the opportunity to experience horses like this."
Doward says the experience builds character, teaches responsibility, and keeps kids out of trouble. Since 2004, the group has given more than 2,500 Rochester kids that chance. Farm owner Jack Frohm had his doubts at first, but now he's a believer.
"They give me no problems, no disruptions," Frohm said. "They're just the greatest kids and they enjoy coming out and they work like you wouldn't believe, it's a super program."
Frohm wishes he could give Doward the farm, but he can't so he's speaking up, hoping kids like Ayala can keep riding. Ayala comes to the farm four times a week and without this, she wouldn't be doing much.
"I would be sitting at my house bored," Ayala said.
On top of all the kids who would be at a loss, A Horse's Friend has 27 horses. Without a facility, those horses will be homeless.
Updated: January 03, 2018 09:31 AM
Created: January 03, 2018 05:47 AM
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