October 2, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 27

Liability issue puts damper on horse-kid match-ups

A plan to match kids and horses as part of a school program got stalled when the school district stated that its insurance carrier wasn’t too high on the idea.

The idea was hatched by Chris Holman, president of “The Nourishing Hand” group, an equine rescue organization.

His idea was to match kids from the school with mistreated horses and create a bond between school-age children and the animals.

The idea was met with enthusiasm at the time, but got stalled by the school’s insurance carrier, Canfield & Associates.

Superintendent Dennis Carlson told the board Monday night that the liability issue was an obstacle to the idea.

He said that kids could maybe groom, feed and lead the horses around, but beyond that there was a liability issue the district didn’t want to deal with. Grooming, feeding, and leading a horse around is just a prelude to riding. The riding issue was the obstacle.

The equine group has a small corral in Delano and a few horses rescued through the courts from individuals who didn’t properly care for them.

Holman contended that caring for an animal was good therapy for special needs students who were having some difficulty in making day-to-day adjustments. Holman said both the student and animal would benefit from the program.

Board member Susan Chaffee stated that she was all for the idea, but that she would like to see a way to remove the liability issue.

Holman, and his assistant, Heather Downs, spend a lot of time at the corral, working with the horses and helping a limited number of youngsters with the care of the animals.

The corral holds three horses, Remy, 20; Snickers, 34; and Baby, 13; all rescued through the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the courts.

The board didn’t dismiss the idea, but didn’t move forward with it either.

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