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Program connects kids with horses

Children learn lessons about responsibility.

Posted: March 16, 2008 1:04 a.m.
Updated: May 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Santa Clarita civilian volunteer Glenda Warnock (left) and San Dimas Posse Sheriff's Reserve officer Susan Flores (right) help Raymond Ibrahim, 8, bridle the horse the boy got to ride Saturday morning.

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Raymond Ibrahim had been around horses before, but never anything like this.

The 8-year-old from Canyon Country was up close, learning how to put a saddle on Fred, his horse for the day.

Ibrahim seemed a little shy at first when he walked around the large animal, but soon opened up and began to enjoy the experience.

"I was pretty excited," he said, standing next to Fred at the Jack Bones Equestrian Arena in Castaic. "I like horses. I like being around them."

Ibrahim was one of 11 other youngsters from the Val Verde Youth Activities League who learned all about horses from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Mounted Posse on Saturday.

The event was a first for the Posse, a group of civilian volunteers and reserves from all over Southern California who assist the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department with general law enforcement.

The program was designed to give the at-risk youths, ranging from 8 to 12 years in age, a chance to interact with horses while meeting the 40-plus Posse members on hand who led lessons on how to care for and ride horses.

Glenda Warnock, a civilian volunteer with the Posse, and Susan Flores, a sheriff reserve with the San Dimas Posse unit, were partnered with Ibrahim to teach him everything about horses.

As for what children can learn from horses, Warnock replied, "They can learn to be patient," adding the new program can teach a child how to care about others too.

But Saturday's event was also a way for the Mounted Posse to be involved in the community, as Bobbie Marr, a civilian volunteer from the San Dimas Posse unit, explained.

Prior to visiting the equestrian arena, Marr, who assisted in developing the trial run of Saturday's program, said that most of the kids had several hours of classroom instruction led by Posse members to learn about different breeds of horses and the Posse itself.

Because Posse units from all over Southern California were represented on Saturday, the hope is that each volunteer or reserve will take their experience of working with the at-risk youths and apply it to their region through similar programs, Marr said.

Marr said her philosophy is to expose children to as many opportunities as they can, but then allowing them to ultimately choose what path they want to follow.

Back at the horse, Ibrahim, Warnock and Flores prepared to put a bridle on Fred. The next stop was taking a souvenir photo with Fred before going on a guided horse ride around the equestrian arena.

When asked about his favorite part of the day so far, he replied that grooming and cleaning the horse was fun.

"He liked it, and I liked it too," he said.

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