JUNCTION CITY, Kan., July 26, 2011 -- Zayvion Haseman enjoyed his horse ride so much at the Exceptional Family Member Program Special Needs Rodeo that he kissed the horse.

Zayvion, who will be a kindergartner at Chapman Elementary School this fall, surprised his father with that move.

“That was actually surprising,” said Capt. Mark Haseman, Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “The cowgirl that was out here walking the horse said, ‘Do you want to give him a kiss?’ And, he gave a shy little nod and went up and kissed it. I was like, ‘What just happened? That’s not my child.’”

Haseman, who also brought his other son, Mylique, who will be a first-grader this fall at Chapman, said the event was great for his children.

“It was the first time for Zayvion to be a on a horse, and he’s usually incredibly timid, so it was fun to have him try something new,” he said. “It was something brave for him to gain some confidence.”

Haseman said his boys had fun roping and riding simulated bulls, riding horses, getting a card ride and visiting the petting zoo, as well as getting cowboy hats, bandanas and other gifts.

“Obviously (the horses were) not bucking up and down, but I know for a fact that there’s a therapeutic value in horses and whatnot,” he said. “It was good to see the kids try something new and be brave about it and have fun.”

The Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, partnered with the Junction City Rodeo Association and Junction City Optimist Club to provide the annual event, which was July 16 at the Geary County Fairgrounds.

“I think it went exceptionally well again,” said Laurie McCauley, EFMP manager, Army Community Service, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “Families came out and enjoyed themselves and learned a different culture. It gave them an experience and opportunity to learn hands-on.”

McCauley said the rodeo was a great opportunity for the families to network and also is a great learning experience.

“I think it’s educational,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to kind of learn about that culture, and it’s lifelong. You kind of just take something and learn from it and see if that works for you. That’s what we want to teach our families and kids with special needs -- that you’ve got to still try something and see if it works, and if it doesn’t work, accommodate otherwise.”

EFMP’s next big event will be the trip to the pumpkin patch in October.

Page last updated Tue July 26th, 2011 at 08:12