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Harness Horse Youth Camps Underway

Published: July 1, 2016 10:13 pm ET

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On paper, Ahoskie, North Carolina and Delaware, Ohio are very different. Delaware sits in one of the wealthiest counties in Ohio and hosts the Little Brown Jug, arguably the most prestigious three-year-old harness race in the sport. The races at Ahoskie’s Atlantic District Fairgrounds are not even recognized by the U.S. Trotting Association, and the median family income is less than half of Delaware’s. But when horses are involved, none of that matters.

Last week, the two had something in common. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation was spreading the gospel of getting youngsters involved in racing at both locations.

From June 18 to 22, five youngsters at Delaware got an in-depth harness racing experience, working long hours each day learning to groom, harness and drive the HHYF Trottingbreds. That camp culminated with a driving exhibition won by Hannah Hassan. Cammie Lange was selected to represent the Delaware camp at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. She will take a part in a driving exhibition with participants from other multi-day HHYF camps.

After camp ended Wednesday, the HHYF crew -- Executive Director Ellen Taylor, Summer Instructor John Reames, Summer Intern Travis Ceppaluni and alum Marcella Riddick -- loaded up the gear and the horses, and early Thursday morning, they shipped 600 miles to Ahoskie.

On Saturday, June 25, 11 youngsters got an introductory course in harness racing, as well as the chance to drive a Trottingbred. Sunday afternoon, HHYF took part in an open house at the Atlantic District Fairgrounds, sponsored by the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce.

“Sometimes, HHYF finds itself in a wonderful environment reminiscent of yesteryear and Ahoskie was delightful. From meeting the iconic Charlie “Red Eye” Williams to providing our support for the community effort to provide positive opportunities for kids. Honestly, this may have been one of the most successful HHYF events in our 40-year history and definitely one of the most inspiring,” explained Ellen Taylor, HHYF Executive Director.

Both programs were made possible through the support of the local community; in Ohio, the camp was sponsored by OHHA, and in Ahoskie, the town partnered for the event.

Also on Sunday, June 26, another team of HHYF volunteers were greeting the public at the Fair Winds Open House in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. Ambassador Sweet Karen, HHYF vice president Nicola Abrams, and Shannon and Riley Ceppaluni provided information to the 300 attendees of that event.

The HHYF travelling harness racing school then moved on to Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland this week, before heading to historic Goshen, New York for its annual Leadership camp from July 5 to 9.

Celebrating 40 years of youth education and service to harness racing, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation makes a difference in young people’s lives through interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to

(With files from HHYF)

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