Remember the fabulous Carriage Classic? Well, now the Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic is coming! It’s been a long time since the Valley has had this much equestrian excitement. Here is an event that you are just not going to want to miss.

This big polo benefit for People Helping People is coming up Saturday, July 21. Although, Prince William may not be playing, there will be world-renowned celebrity polo players like Memo and Carlos Gracida, and locals T.J. Barrack and Andy Busch of Budweiser fame (who has played polo with Prince William). You’ll also see our own hero Joel Baker, who was rated as one of the top 10 polo players in the United States.

The location is the beautiful Circle JB Polo Ranch located high on a bluff at 560 McMurray Road, Buellton. There are VIP, as well as general admission, tickets. The VIP tickets include special parking, comfortable tented seating, a champagne reception, a delicious lunch and a fancy hat contest. Patron level tickets have even more scintillating benefits. General admission tickets are affordable to make sure everyone can enjoy this unique event. The gates open at 11:30 a.m. and polo starts at 1:30 p.m. Sponsors are Platinum Performance and Cinque Stelle Winery. For more ticket information, go to geanniehs@me.com or www.syvphp.org/events/poloclassic, or call Jordan at 686-0295.

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American Charities Foundation has joined with C.C.Welman’s Happy Endings Animal Sanctuary to provide an innovative program joining children-at-risk and rescued horses. It is a bright idea that was just waiting to be turned on. In both cases, it involves living beings who need to be able to learn to trust and love again.

“It’s OK, honey, you can hug Jiggs,” says C.C. “Now just tell her anything that’s on your mind. She’ll understand.” Smiles widen as each child takes a turn sharing confidences and troubles with their new friend. This is just another example of the mysterious powers that horses appear to possess and are somehow able to share with humans.

American Charities foundation is a local non-profit organization and their benevolent intention is to restore possibilities and help create happy futures for at-risk children. This could include foster children, those who were adopted, or kids who were removed but now have finally been reunited with their parents. There will be series of educational programs and activities for children 7-18 years who live in Santa Barbara County.

There is a huge need here, because currently there are more than 600 children in the Santa Barbara County foster care system. But there are only 80 licensed foster homes! So, sometimes the children must be placed as far away as Beaumont. In order for these children to attend the programs, some care-givers drive as much as four hours each way to enable the children to interact in the programs and activities.

One of the co-founders, Barbara Perkins, says, “We have such a shortage of foster homes. There is a great need for more loving people to open their hearts and homes to the wonderful children.”

Because of her deep love of animals, C.C. Wellman founded her animal sanctuary here in Solvang. At this location, animals that have been abused or come from neglectful situations can be rehabilitated and whenever possible placed in a new loving home. After seeing the evidence that positive experiences with horses can be life changing, the Horse Helpers program was formed (kids helping horses helping kids).

At their first session, “The Yearlings” group (ages 8-12), listened intently to the horse’s stories.

They learned how they had been abused in different ways and how they now don’t trust people. Many of the children have faced similar circumstances. So they come to the ranch just fearful – not mean, just hesitant,” said C.C. “So through the Horse Helpers program, both child and horse are learning to trust and love again. One might say that they are kindred souls and learning to be successful with these horses gives them confidence. They gain skills and a sense of control when other circumstances in their lives make them feel powerless.”

C.C. seems to have an amazing talent for healing troubled horses and other animals. Now she has extended it to children. Good work. Good heart!

How you can reach these groups: www.happyendingsanimalrescuesantuary.org and www.acfchildren.org.