WILKES-BARRE — The stables at Pocono Downs have some eager helpers this week. Every year the Harness Horse Youth Foundation hosts one of its ten summer camps at Pocono Downs to expose kids to the world of harness racing. This year’s group of applicants includes Natalie Mantegna and Kiera Feeley who came to learn more about what it takes to care and race these horses.
“It’s pretty amazing. All day we pretty much take care of them, tack them up, and go out and drive them so it’s a great experience,” said Mantegna.
“Definitely interacting with the horses and definitely cart racing it’s an amazing experience,” said Feeley.
From the care of the horses to the steps to take to get a horse race ready, 13-year-old Natalie plans to share with others her knowledge from her 5 days of training.
“I’m going to do a presentation on the information I learned at this camp and I’m going to present it to the people at my 4-H so they can learn what I learned.”
Going to summer camp is always a great memory for kids but at this camp it’s not just friendships and the learning experience they gain. It’s the relationships they build with horses like Sweet Karen here that make it extra special.
“These kids are all evenly matched in that they don’t have much experience with horses at all, including riding, so it’s been really interesting to watch not only their experience on the track, but they have asked specifically just to spend more time with their horses because they love the horses,” said Ellen Taylor, the camp’s executive director.
And at the end of this week-long camp, the aspiring racers look forward to getting behind the reins and race!
“It’s going to be nice to control the horses. We’ve practiced but it’s for the actual race and it’ll be nice being in the winner’s circle. It’s going to be pretty nice and pretty awesome,” said Feeley.