County Youth Help PETS Prepare for Riding Season

Over a dozen youth helped volunteers make barn and property ready for horses.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – 14 Young men worked on Saturday, March 31, 2012 to help the volunteers of Progressive Equestrian Therapeutic Services, Inc. (PETS) prepare the barn stalls and turnout area for their horses.

The county youth, under the supervision of Corporal Smith of the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections, Community Services Division, responded to a request for help made by the volunteers of PETS. Last year’s storm and flooding from two days of heavy rain not only damaged much of the Town of Upper Marlboro but also the pasture or turnout area used by the PETS horses (see Prince George’s County Fire/EMS coverage of flooding). Faced with having to make large repairs with a small number of volunteers the youth provided through Community Services were able to complete a huge task and avoid a significant lesson schedule disruption.

PETS is a 100% volunteer run, therapeutic skill-based, horseback riding program at the Prince George’s County Equestrian Center. Sponsored by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) PETS offers its service free of charge to county residents dealing with various disabilities and/or developmental issues. Beginning a month before riding lessons start, volunteers spend each Saturday getting the barn and turnout area ready for their horses to return from winter boarding locations. The record flooding and damage left a large task for the volunteers to face.

Flood waters took down fencing used to keep horses in turnout area. (PETS photo)

The teens on Saturday worked responsibly and under minimal volunteer supervision to complete two main tasks that day. First, heavy metal fencing panels, tossed about and twisted by flood waters, was salvaged and bent back into its useable form by one group of teens. The useable fence panels were then mounted to posts driven by another group of teens in gaps at the turnout perimeter. Once done, the teens went and reinforced the fencing in all areas as well as cleaned up storm debris, making the turnout safe for the horses to use. While the turnout was being repaired, another group of teens were working at the barn making the 10 stalls ready. Each stall received multiple wheelbarrow loads of bedding material. The man-hours provided in this one day allowed the PETS program to bring their horses to the barn and begin the lessons as scheduled.

Corporal Smith, youth and PETS volunteers after a full day of work. (PETS photo)

PETS hopes to use the Community Services work force in the future, as  a way to help with the physical maintenance demands of the program and provide a healthy time of responsibility and reward among all Prince George’s County residents with the goal of serving others .

About PETS

Progressive Equestrian Therapeutic Services, Inc. (PETS) is a 100% volunteer, 501(c)3 non-profit PATH Int. Premier Accredited center providing skill-based horseback riding lessons, at no charge, to children and adults of Prince George’s County dealing with physical, emotional and learning disabilities. Sponsored by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, PETS operates out of the Prince George’s County Equestrian Center, Show Place Arena. For more information, view PETS online at or contact 301-627-4308.

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