A Horse’s Touch is a nonprofit organization in Wimauma that is working with people of all ages to teach basic riding skills as well as care for the horses. It offers a variety of programs as well as camps and birthday parties.

Mercedes McClellan developed her love of horses since her time as a working student at the Stanford Red Barn in Palo Alto, California in 1999. Fortunately, McClellan was able to take her passion for horses and turn it into a nonprofit organization to help the community in 2017 called A Horse’s Touch.

A Horse’s Touch involves Work Exchange (WE) in support of the state of Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship program. WE students exchange work at the barn for lessons in animal husbandry as well as basic riding skills in English and Western disciplines. Students in the WE program also develop confidence, commitment and passion and pursue development in the leadership qualities of accountability and responsibility.

McClellan also has a number of clients with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities that include cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit disorder and children recovering from abuse. Several of McClellan’s students from A Horse’s Touch participated in the equestrian competition at the Florida Special Olympics in 2018 and 2019.

Recently, McClellan relocated her program from Lithia to Wimauma. “Things were hectic during the COVID period,” said McClellan. “But we are now settled in Wimauma on our horse farm that we bought.”

With seven horses and a new location, McClellan is ready to help strengthen the community with affordable programs that use horses to promote healthy living and lifestyles.

A Horse’s Touch currently has riders ages 4-49 participating in its programs. These programs help these students, families and adults learn riding skills as well as other horse-related caregiving and activities. With all the activities and outreach programs provided by A Horse’s Touch, McClellan is always in need of help from people in the community who are willing to volunteer.

“We also host birth parties, kid horse camps and horse recitals,” said McClellan. “There are also discounts for military veterans, first responders, police officers and their families.”

A Horse’s Touch is also hosting a Halloween party on Sunday, October 30 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. At this event, there will be a costume parade on horseback with games, prizes, food and trick-or-treating. The cost is $30.

A Horse’s Touch is located at 12435 Cody Dr. in Wimauma. For more information about the program, events or volunteering, visit https://ahorsestouch.godaddysites.com/ or email mmbarn4@gmail.com. McClellan can also be contacted at 813-992-0743.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.