A Horse’s Touch was represented by four riders this year at the Florida Special Olympics competition.

On February 24 and 25, riders from A Horse’s Touch participated in the annual Florida Special Olympics held at the Bakas Equestrian Center in Tampa. Competing against individuals from across Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, A Horse’s Touch was represented by four riders, all of whom placed in the trail and equitation events this year: 12-year-old twins, a 13-year-old female and a 19-year-old male.

Residing in the FishHawk and Riverview areas, each of these riders trained for one year under the founder of A Horse’s Touch, Mercedes McClellan, regardless of their level of experience in competition. Riders faced a series of challenges during the Special Olympics, such as having to walk over cavaletti poles and making their horse retreat three steps backward independently.

Both twins placed fourth in the trail event; in the equitation event, one was awarded third and the other fourth. The female placed fifth in both the trail and equitation events, and the male was awarded third in both the trail and equitation events. McClellan cites that witnessing their accomplishments and her riders’ pride as the most rewarding aspect.

“This is the greatest experience a coach can have — when you look over and see their parents tear up to watch their son or daughter win a ribbon,” said McClellan.

While the Florida Special Olympics was not hosted in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, A Horse’s Touch has otherwise competed in these annual events since 2018. In 2019, McClellan’s students advanced to and competed at the state level in Ocala.

Seeking to secure and further these opportunities for motivated individuals, A Horse’s Touch welcomes those with varying conditions, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and cerebral palsy. Furthermore, foster children and those who have suffered previous abuse are also encouraged to become involved.

In addition to A Horse’s Touch, McClellan offers other programs. This includes the Work Exchange (WE) program, an opportunity for students interested in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program to contribute help around the property in return for lessons on various topics, such as fundamental riding skills and learning to care for the horses. Horse camps for children, birthday parties and horse recitals are also featured activities of McClellan’s.

For more information about A Horse’s Touch, visit https://ahorsestouch.godaddysites.com/. Further details can be found by emailing mmbarn4@gmail.com or calling 813-992-0743. A Horse’s Touch is located at 12435 Cody Dr. in Wimauma.

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