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Jessica’s Camp: Equine Training At Kings Bridge Farm

Photo: Andrew Gorosko

Staff and students at Jessica’s Camp, a horse training scholarship program, posed for a group photo at the camp at Kings Bridge Farm on July 19. Rear row from left, are counselor Kelly Coughlin, instructor Montana Calloway, the Welsh pony known as Waffles, and counselors Michele Reid, Jess Coughlin and Daly King. The six girls in the front row were the first students to participate in the program.

On a blazingly hot and humid July 19, midway through the first session of the nonprofit Jessica’s Camp horse training scholarship program, a half-dozen 6- and 7-year-old girls who are learning about things equine gathered near a corral at Kings Bridge Farm on Huntingtown Road.

Members of the New Jersey Pinto Horse Association opened a large horse trailer there and began giving the young girls a variety of horse-related items intended to equip them as they work toward becoming equestrians.

The six girls are the first participants in the Jessica’s Camp scholarship program, which provides equine training for children in need. The horseback riding lesson scholarships are offered to children whose families would not otherwise be able to afford such summer camp private horse lessons.

The program is an outgrowth of The Jessica Rekos Memorial Fund.

Jessica, 6, a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was one of the 20 children and six adults who were killed on 12/14.

On a frigid and blustery day last January, Krista and Richard Rekos, Jessica’s parents, took part in a memorial fund fundraising event at the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard at Fairfield Hills.

Initially, that event had been planned for Kings Bridge Farm, but interest in the event grew so much that the location was shifted to the horse guard’s more spacious facilities. Several hundred people attended.

Jessica rode horses at Kings Bridge Farm, having taken up the sport in 2011. Her favorite horse there was a Welsh pony known as Waffles.

Montana Calloway is the instructor at the summer horse camp. She watched last Friday afternoon as the girls received a variety of horse gear from the association and then stored it in a barn.

At that time, the six girls were midway through the first two-week session of Jessica’s Camp, Ms Calloway said. The girls are from Newtown and surrounding towns, she said, explaining that the program provides them with an opportunity to learn about horses. Activities include riding horses, caring for them, and doing horse-related craft projects.

The camp is planned to be held each summer at the horse farm.

In a statement, Krista Rekos said, “We have gotten strength from sharing Jessica’s passions with others, and we are proud that her love of horses can provide this opportunity for young equestrians.

“Jess’s horseback riding instructor, Montana, created the activities for the camp with Jessica in mind — so it is truly a tribute to our little girl, the horses she loved so much, and the campers too,” Ms Rekos added.

Ms Rekos has said her daughter was fascinated by horses. “Jessica found the magic in horses,” she has said.

Information on Jessica’s Camp is available online at PonyRidesForJessica.org. Anyone interested in learning about The Jessica Rekos Memorial Fund may contact the fund at PO Box 713, Newtown CT 06470.

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