HAZARD — The Appalachian Horse Center is a nonprofit organization, which is devoted to using horses as a means of assisting with economic development in Southeastern Kentucky. The organization has highlighted a nine-county region as its primary service area, in terms of economic influence, and the Horse Center is currently in the process of determining which one of those nine counties should serve as the home for its central functions. At this moment, the center is not yet operational, as start up funding is being established.
On Jan. 18 the Appalachian Horse Center conducted a horsemen listening session at the Hampton Inn in Hazard, which gave officials, local citizens and horse enthusiasts a chance to learn about the center and, in turn, also allowed representatives of the horse center to learn about Perry County. Similar listening sessions are being scheduled in other areas that are receiving consideration for the site as well.
These are some of the topics discussed at the Hazard listening session, according to notes taken by the Appalachian Horse Center. Interest was shown in the possibility of using the horse center as a means of therapy for children and adults with autism. The prospect of horse trail development was discussed, as well as possibilities of structuring eco-tourism and adventure tourism efforts around the horse center. Attendees and representatives brainstormed the best ways to network and promote the center, including social media efforts. Perry County’s position in the center of the district was also a topic of conversation, as well as initiatives to advance Hazard’s status as an official trail town. An adopt-a-horse program was also mentioned as a potential means for fundraising.
These are some of the programs the Appalachian Horse Center is striving to offer; equine education for students and school groups, equine rescue to prevent horses from being abandoned, an inmate horse program, equine therapy programs for Wounded Warriors, handicapped children, and autistic children, as well as training for equine veterinary and vocational students.
Several people from the community attended the Hazard listening session, despite snowy weather. The Appalachian Horse Center held a listening session in Hyden the day before the session in Hazard. A session was also held in Prestonsburg after the meeting in Hazard on the evening of Jan. 18. More information about the Appalachian Horse Center can be found on Facebook; facebook.com/AppHorseCenter.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.