On Saturday, Aug. 10, with the help of 19 volunteers from Mason City, Clear Lake, and Forest City, local Boy Scout Leo Tolentino completed his Eagle Scout project, which consisted of constructing a hitching post and recruiting volunteers to groom the rescued horses at Gentle Spirit Horse Rescue and Sanctuary on Pilot Knob Road.
Tolentino, 14, a member of Scout Boy Scout Troop 1438, said he got the idea for a project, last year, after a campout and 15-mile hike in and around Pilot Knob State Park.
During the hike, the scouts stopped at the rescue shelter and fed their apple cores to the horses. Later, he contacted Kathi Ring, the shelter’s owner, to discuss repairing the corral fence and to ask for other project ideas. Ring suggested a hitching post. She said a place to tie up the horses was very important because it would help for when the farrier would trim the horses’ hooves or for when he would put on horseshoes, for veterinary procedures and for aid in mounting the horses when young children come for riding lessons. She also described how without a rail, they had been using the corral fence, which was not as sturdy and which the horses chewed on when they were tied up.
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Gentle Spirit Horses Rescue and Sanctuary takes in horses, whose owners can no longer care for them. Frequently the organization works to restore the horses to good health. It serves the community in various ways by finding new owners to adopt horses, providing educational opportunities for all ages to learn to care for horses and providing riding opportunities for children and various youth organizations.
Tolentino, together with Eagle Scout Joshua Coombs, visited local businesses in Forest City over the summer to raise $380 for lumber and other supplies to build the hitching post. He received financial donations from Titonka Savings Bank (TSB), Schnebly’s gas station, Torkelson Plumbing and Heating, GSC Investments and Hair Designs, along with Duane Rollins of Dewey’s Welding, for the custom made iron U bands used to secure the top rail in place and Steve Dunnick from Mercy Hospital ER in Mason City for serving as the on-site First Aid resource on the day of the project. After a first day of fundraising, Tolentino began purchasing lumber, concrete and rubber mats for the project.
“One of the hardest parts of the job was digging the post holes,” Tolentino said. “We didn’t have a motorized auger. We had to dig the holes to 4 feet deep by hand. Sometimes we hit large rocks that had to be broken and lifted out, and sometimes the ground was so hard we had to pour water in the holes.”
In addition to building the hitching post, volunteers groomed and rode the horses.
Information and service opportunities can be found at https://gentlespirithorses.org/.