Each year Horse Play has grown, and with no exception, 2011 was our best year ever!  We want to thank Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center for collaborating with us, and especially Twilla Woolsey for purchasing those fine boots and getting to work to find funding, helping us with involvement in the schools, and so much more.   Thank you, Twilla.

   Amarillo Independent School District started a series of events through their Safe Schools Program offering "Hot Dogs and Horse Play" for parents at both Fannin and Austin Middle Schools.  The Samaritan board members and staff cooked hot dogs in the parking lot, and Frank and I, with a team of wonderful volunteers, gave parenting sessions for families using our horses and their "childlike" behaviors for practice.  This was a great time for everyone, except for Crockett, one young colt, who refused to load into the trailer and go home!  In addition to these parenting sessions, Horse Play has been providing equine-assisted counseling for individual clients and their families from the schools referred by counselors, teachers, or parents all under the same Safe Schools Program.  We continue to assist these youth every day after school in our indoor arena. 

   We brought to a close this June the 2-year contract with AISD to work with their after-school program where we served many teens identified as homeless or in shelters.  The funding for this was provided by a stimulus grant, and so we are trying to find a new source of funds to be able to continue the work with this group of young people.  It felt like a graduation the last day they came as I remembered the first time the students stepped foot into our arena. Many of them were terrified of the horses, but now they know the horses all by name and even have their favorites. Thank you to Mary Strong and Melissa Chapman for all your effort to make this endeavor a success.

   With the help of Clay Thomas, Scott Sticksel, and Dawn Wells, Horse Play conducted equine-assisted counseling and learning with the youth living in the Presbyterian Children's Home this summer and Fall.  We started a curriculum designed specifically for "at risk" youth and worked with the teens from the various houses on their campus. One session in particular comes to my mind as I write this...we were all in tears as we processed the stages one goes through when dealing with rejection or loss, and how hard it is to get to acceptance.  Even our foster son was moved to tears as he shared how the Lord is working in his life to help him.  At this writing, we are beginning our winter schedule and are looking forward to seeing the kids again in the arena. Thank you to all the house parents, staff, and board members who are involved with these kids and allow us to work with them each week.

   Arrow Treatment Center, formerly the Panhandle Assessement Center, continues to host Horse Play each Saturday in their indoor arena to work with the children living in their shelters.  We serve two groups dividing the kids by age into elementary and teens providing equine-assisted learning activities for them each week. If you click on our page called Horse Play, God's Way, you can view one activity that is a favorite with the children and gives us the best looking horses in Amarillo. Thank you Keith, Sandra, and staff for letting us be a part of the wonderful work you are doing.

   Each year, CareNet Amarillo/Canyon allows us the privilege of providing sessions for their groups, the Chosen, Pearls, and Squires. We love these children as they are the warriors the Lord is raising for our future, and we love being able to be a part of their training along the way. It is always a daunting task as we consider numbers in the 50's and 60's sometimes in the arena at the same time with several horses, but it always has a powerful outcome. Thank you Kathy Rainer for making all the arrangements, and Candy Gibbs for your continued support of Horse Play.

   Sharon Minor with Leadership Amarillo/Canyon brought both their adult and teen groups to Horse Play for the second year this summer of equine-assisted training in leadership and teambuilding. It is always interesting to hear the comments from the group after they realize they really "can" play billiards with horses and learn something in the process. Our Raging River activity became more "raging" than we anticipated this year with the teens...maybe we should rename it the "Lazy River" next year!  We always enjoy the processing with these groups as they relate the activities to their work and everyday lives. Thank you for giving us this opportunity, Sharon.

   Joy Webb, teacher for the severly disabled at Randall High School brought her class to visit Horse Play in October for a field trip.  Each student was taught the proper grooming of the horses, and they were able to "show" their horses at halter and receive accolades for their effort.  Watching the interaction between the students and the horses was amazing.  We are hoping this might become an annual event!

   As we contemplate the future of Horse Play, we have been in contact with Diane Gilmore with the Downtown Women's Center about providing equine-assited counseling with the women in their Abba House.  We are trying to work out the details of funding, which is always the stumbling block to this ministry, but we continue to trust in the Lord's provision.  

   As I close this note, I want to send a HUGE thank you to our volunteers who have taken their time and worked hard, and also to those who have financially supported Horse Play this past year.  The drought was an unexpected expense for which many contributed, and we are truly humbled by this support, and give glory to our Lord for how He provides.  We can never repay what you have given to us except to continue to use these horses to reach our youth letting them know how much the Lord loves them.

        God Bless,
           Frank & Becky Foster