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Special day on the farm
Many activities were available for guests at Horsin Around sponsored by the McMinnville Breakfast Rotary and the McMinnville Special Games, such as a fun petting zoo featuring farm animals. Special Games volunteer Christie Stiles, at left, encourages, from left, Donnie Everlith, Shelly Paine and Sara Tibbets to touch the calves.

The second annual Horsin’ Around event, sponsored by McMinnville Breakfast Rotary and McMinnville Special Games, both nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, was held recently at Kylemore Farms. The activity provided an opportunity for special needs children and adults to interact with farm animals and to be able to ride a horse.    
Co-chairs Holly McBride and Neal Cox teamed together to organize a project called Horsin’ Around. The all-day activities took place at Neal and Norma Cox’s Viola Road farm. 
“The Horsin’ Around program provides equestrian events for special needs children and adults,” said Cox. “We have patterned our program after the Saddle Up group in Franklin, which is celebrating its 25th successful year.”
The morning activities started with approximately 25 trail riders traveling for a three-hour trip to the top of Ben Lomond Mountain. Riders were asked to pay $25 to participate, with proceeds going to the program. Kevin Murphy got creative and brought his team of horses and wagon for his family to enjoy.
Guests took in time on the farm, riding either Prince or Champ in round pens, all supervised by adult volunteers. McBride is the president of McMinnville Special Games, and Donna Wanamaker is vice president.
The two worked tirelessly to make the event run smoothly and make it special for all the guests. A noon time meal, provided by Rotary volunteers, was served to all the families and guests, feeding almost 200 before the day was through.
A petting zoo featuring farm animals of calves, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and chicks was provided and manned by volunteers from the Warren County Youth Fair Board. 
“We are always looking for new participants, and we are in the process of starting private riding lessons for special needs children and adults,” said McBride. “It is medically proven with scientific facts stating that equestrian therapy improves posture and balance, motor skills, reduces anxiety and increases social interaction.”
According to Cox, $4,600 was raised this year for the project, which was up from $4,000 last year. All the monies will go to the program.
“We were fortunate to have 11 acres on Viola Road graciously leased to us for only $1 by David Mayfield to house the horses,” said Cox. “Our future plans are to get a building on the site for our families to enjoy, and are planning to have equestrian activities the first Saturday of each month starting at 9 a.m.”
A fun auction was held featuring assorted items donated by the public. Afternoon entertainment was provided by members of the Warren County High School choir.
“We want this project to grow into a daily equestrian activity for special needs children and adults in Warren County,” said Cox. “We always need volunteers to help with the children in the process of riding, caring for the horses or one of the many duties required for an endeavor of this magnitude. If you want to volunteer, we will find a spot for you.”
McMinnville Special Games started in 2012 and has grown to 150 participants enjoying regular activities. On May 6, the Special Games will be held at Warren County Middle School starting at 10 a.m. Participants should pre-register by contacting McBride.
For more information, Cox can be reached at 931-235-5660; McBride at 931-808-8816.