Thursday, May 6, 2010

Leaving class to horse around

By Michael Jones
For the Tribune-Review

Anxious stares quickly gave way to wide smiles Tuesday morning as 13 students from Bethel Park High School's special education program visited a Washington County horse farm for the ride of a lifetime.

The activity gave the students a hands-on experience with horses after they recently finished reading "Black Beauty" for class.

Sherry Parise, an autistic support teacher, could barely contain her enthusiasm watching 16-year-old Hannah Dibble prepare for the first ride of the day at the Horse 'N Soul farm.

"This is so exciting," Parise said as Hannah climbed atop a brown equine named Nash.

Parise said Hannah is usually quiet in class, so she was encouraged as Hannah responded to an instructor's direction to tell the horse to "walk on." With that command, Nash began moving forward with an instructor guiding the horse around the ring.

Parise was just as excited a few moments later when Jimmy Tosic, 19, mounted the next horse and gave the same instructions. Flashing a wide smile, Jimmy waved to her and other students while riding Rocky in the pen.

"Just to see him so relaxed on that horse," Parise said. "He's not going to want to get off.

"I love animals and kids, so this is the perfect place for me."


(Photo by Keith Hodan/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)


  1. Mike, I have been there, and personally know the families involved with this place. I don't know much about these kinds of activities, nor do I know much about horses. But, it seems to me that the farm is offering a very valuable experience to those who need it. Those involved, with Pam at the helm, are intent on helping children to see another side of outdoor life they would ordinarily miss. Some of the stories are heart-wrenching.

    It is an outstanding location, with great views and a wide variety of terrain and places for riders, either contained, or on paths.

    Thanks for this great story for the Trib.

  2. Roger,

    Let me just say that I put my pen and pad down for a few minutes and rested on the fence just to enjoy the scene. It was truly inspiring.

    Pam and the workers at this farm did a fabulous job to gain the trust of these kids. And the teachers who work so hard to help these students were in awe of what these horses offered.

    Overall, it was an amazing experience for everyone involved, even those of us who weren't riding the horses.