Harts And Horses Helps Youths And Families Through Equine Therapy

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Keeping a hungry donkey away from food is no easy task, just ask these Harts for Horses kids. Pictured are (from left to right): Jayme Chilson, Lindsey Wala (holding the feed bucket), Teri Sorace, Brittany Cochran and Tina Kremer. Turn to page 3B for additional photographs from the event.

Johnna Kyle is excited she's now involved in the Harts and Horses program.

"I didn't know much about it until I went to my first program and now I know just how great it (Harts and Horses) is," she said. "I am just thrilled with how this is turning out."

Kyle got interested in the program after meeting longtime friend Dori Tamagni at a local store.

"She told me a little bit about it and I thought it sounded great, so I said, ‘count me in,'" Kyle said.

The program was held this past week at the Payson Event Center with local teens and children, some from the Time Out shelter, as guests.

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Working as a team, these exuberant young people manage to keep this mini donkey at bay, at least for a little while. From left to right are: Janine Tantimonaco, Cameron Barshear, Jesus Ponce, Katie McCorgary and Lindsey Wala.

Harts and Horses is based in Marana and is a nonprofit organization of equine professionals and volunteers who say they "strive to enhance the quality of life for youth, at-risk youth and families through equine therapy programs."

Two of the equine professionals, although they were not in Payson due to other obligations, are Thumper and Clay Hardt.

The two are the sons of Gary Hardt, who the local memorial rodeo is dedicated to.

Kyle says the Harts and Horses programs help foster growth, learning and wellness in the youth by encouraging them to find new thrills and passions in their lives.

The medium for accomplishing those goals are horses, Kyle said.

In the program, executive director Dori Tamagni and volunteers trailer the horses throughout the state, often to rodeo arenas, and conduct the counseling and guidance programs to at-risk youths.

"There are so many wonderful things they can do with the horses and the children," Kyle said.

In some of the therapy programs, the children are allowed to paint a horse, usually Grey Bull.

In other programs they learn to cooperate and work with one another to bridle, feed, train and care for the horses which can include Junior, Beyonce, Roxy, Chocolate, Sewa and Pizaaz.

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Katie McCorgary of the Lucky Seven team finally figured out a way to lead this horse inside a circle and make it stay there for 5 seconds as part of the Harts and Horses program which took place at the Payson Event Center this week. It was no easy task as team members had to stay in contact with each other and couldn't talk unless they were all touching the metal fence of the arena. The kids put their heads together and decided a Hula Hoop was a decent leash they could use to lure the horse in. It worked.

Kyle is so enthralled with the program she hopes to expand it in Payson.

I'm going to approach the Gracie Haught foundation and see what we can do there," she said.

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