Send a Horse to College


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They’ll be horsing around this weekend in Greenfield Township’s Merli-Sarnoski Park.

The Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Mounted Police Unit will hold a fundraising carnival Saturday, Sept. 21, noon to 4 p.m.

Admission will be $5, which includes a hot dog, drink, popcorn, cotton candy and all the planned activities, including a bounce house, a hay ride, a hay maze, pony rides, a kids’ tatooing station, a petting zoo and photo opportunities with the horses.

An ice cream truck will be on the grounds, and proceeds from the ice cream sales will also go to the mounted police. There will also be basket raffles and the first 250 children to attend will receive a gift bag. Food will be donated by Price Chopper and Electric City Pizza.

A portion of the money raised will be used to help send Phineas, the unit’s lead horse, to “horse college” at a farm in Texas for six weeks. Officials say the training will help the horse interact with the children of Lackawanna County, which is one of the duties of the horses in the Mounted Unit.

Two new retired “standardbreds” (harness racehorses) were recently adopted into the Lackawanna County Mounted Unit, named Manny and Miracle. They will be at the event, along with the four other equines in the unit.

The county’s Mounted Unit was reactivated in 2004, according to Jesse Van Deusen, deputy sheriff.

“We patrol county parks and any county assets that need us, including concerts and baseball games,” he said. “We also get called to assist local police departments.”

Van Deusen said he and his team could train Phineas themselves, but “we’re working with the two new horses and it will save time at our training facility if we could send him out to get training elsewhere.”

Van Deusen said the goal of the training is to help the horse “learn how to react, not act instinctively, not be reactive to stuff and be calm in control.”

Dawn Davis, Lackawanna County’s children and youth coordinator, says Phineas is “a good horse and that’s why we picked him. We want to keep him highly tuned.”

Davis said the majority of the costs for the unit is maintenance of the animals, including equipment, medication and vet bills.

“The county is strapped, and it’s hard going to them for the money,” she said. “We hope this carnival might take some of the burden off the county.”

Merli Sarnoski Park is at 286 Sandy Banks Road in Greenfield Township. Call 840-3116 for more information.

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