Carson and Holman were able to team up with another local nonprofit, Unique Diamond, to develop an outreach program for local kids in San Juan Capistrano.
They started with a mini horse camp, using the practices of Otra Mas (and Kathy Holman’s horses) to teach these underprivileged children how to be around horses. The campers got the ultimate reward; they then took an hour-long trail ride.
“The look on their faces is priceless,” Carson said.
Ortega Equestrian Center is the only facility that offers trail rides in San Juan Capistrano, and it was so rewarding to see the kids’ reactions to their first time on a horse.
Collaborations have been key to the outreach program. Carson explained how they team up with individuals, local businesses and nonprofits to keep the outreach program going. For example, Starbucks donates snacks and drinks for the kids. Carson’s clients partake and even dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus around the holidays to make the camps more memorable. The Unidos South program (winner of the SJCEC’s 2021 100 Horsemen Challenge: unidossouthoc.com) helps coordinate campers by working with the school districts.
When asked what the biggest impact horses have on the kids, Carson replied, “I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s huge, and almost overwhelming. I have witnessed countless children completely changed by it. Kids completely open up.”
Besides teaching and training being her way of earning a living, Christina strives to provide the outreach programs pro bono, through donations of unwrapped toys and funds from the public. For more information on lessons or trail rides or to get involved with the outreach program, contact Carson at 559.920.0015.