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Children outfitted for therapeutic riding equipment

Children of Roy Maas Youth Alternatives learning to ride for polo exhibition

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A group of teenagers who must live away from their families is getting an opportunity of a lifetime to learn how to care for and ride polo ponies, and now they are getting the equipment to do it safely.

The San Antonio Polo Club, a 501(c)3 volunteer organization, has been teaching the four boys and four girls who reside in the foster home the basics of horse care, but the kids lacked proper footwear to handle the 1,000-pound animals.

That's where the Will Smith Foundation and its founder took action.

Susan Moulton, who established the foundation seven years ago after the death of her son to a DWI driver in Hawaii, said, "Some of these children haven't been shown a lot of kindness in their life. It's mutual for the horses and the kids. I'm one hundred percent behind this."

The idea she says is to provide educational and enlightening adventures to children who might not every get the chance to say, wind surf, scuba dive, visit Africa, or yes, play polo.

All of this horse business is new to the kids, but with each equine encounter, they become more confident, stronger, and more in love with these huge new friends.

The San Antonio Polo Club may be providing the horses and training to the foster children for free. The horses however  are providing the healing for hurts of the past.

Moulton says horses have helped her overcome some of her grief from losing her son at such a young age as well.

"Being around the horses. Being able to touch them, feel them, by being empowered by being able to sit on them and ride them. And then to play polo. It's so fun," she said.

The Roy Maas group is one of several taking advantage of the opportunity to ride for free at the San Antonio Polo Club.

Most have never ridden before.

Once the boots arrived, they were able to ride for their first time.

One 16-year-old who we will identify as "Jessica" said, "I've had boots, but not like this before. I feel like a real country girl."

The hope is that these children will be hitting polo balls at an exhibition game planned for Mother's Day at Olmos Basin Park, the first time the sport that was born in San Antonio will be played here in 40 years or so.

The event Polo in the Park will feature a youth exhibition with the foster kids, a beginner's game, then a pro-am polo match from noon to 4 p.m. May 11.

General admission tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door. Food and drinks will be sold.

VIP Tickets are also on sale for an elegant luncheon under tents for $150.

Mothers are invited and encouraged to wear their best lawn hats for the afternoon of polo.

KSAT 12 is a sponsor and all the proceeds will go toward the 501(c)3's efforts to bring the sport back to San Antonio, and offer free, healing equine experiences to at risk children in our area.

For more information on the club or to buy tickets to the Mother's Day Polo in the Park at Olmos Basin Park, visit www.sanantoniopoloclub.org.

For more information on the Will Smith Foundation's efforts, log onto www.willsmithfoundation.org.