Monday, November 12, 2007

Bounty Hunter Pays for Disadvantaged Kids to Ride Horses

As Vanessa Barron steps into the stirrups for the first time, the 13-year-old thinks about how to stay on the saddle, how to make her horse go, and how to stop. She's not thinking about her problems.

"The horses make you feel like you're someone else or something," said Barron. She lives in a homeless shelter with her family. "It's kinda hard for us to be living like that," she said.

But Saturday, Barron can focus on riding horses. She's taking part in the HACNM Ranch Program.

"It stands for Homeless, Abused Children – No More," said Shaun Lawrence.

Lawrence is a bounty hunter. He has owned horses ever since he was a child and just wants to help needy children and disabled ones experience the joy of riding a horse.

"Something they probably would never get to do in their lifetime, mainly because of the expense," said Lawrence.

The expense is something Lawrence is taking on himself. He pays more than $7,000 each month to maintain the 10 horses used in the program.

"I love seeing kids smile. I love seeing them being happy," said Lawrence. "A lot of them today came and when they first came, they were so sad and now they're all having a good time. They're laughing and to me that's worth more than money itself."

"It's kinda great for them to do that for us," said Barron.

Lawrence says you can't put a price on helping kids forget about their daily lives.

"Kind of all your worries just go away when you're on a horse and I think the kids feel that, too," said Lawrence. "A lot of them just forget about everything when they're out here. You know a lot of those kids come from homes where they haven't eaten in several days. They've never even owned an animal."

With his program, they get to look the horses in the eyes. They get to feed them and pet them. Lawrence says they get to experience the magic that has captivated people all around Colorado.

"For them to just even (experience) for them a brief moment," said Lawrence. "Yeah, we only come out here and do it for three hours, but that three hours is going to last them forever."

If you want to help the HACNM Ranch Program, Lawrence is looking for volunteers, hay donations or cash to help care for the horses. Donors can call him at 720-404-0250.

After experiencing horses for the first time, Barron is now looking forward to her next ride.

"I've been on that horse, I've been on that horse," she said. "I wanna ride another one."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shaun is a Great Man!! My children who are disabled, go out every Sunday and ride his horses. He never charges us to ride. I wish someone would give him an award. Thank you shaun and may god bless you