A volunteer task force of local horse enthusiasts, with the help of a generous benefactor, is ready to unveil a plan to create the Martha’s Vineyard Community Horse Center, a non-profit facility where Island kids can connect with horses. The community horse center will be based at Misty Meadows farm in West Tisbury.

Owners Jerry and Carol Kenney have restored the historic property to a showcase equine facility with an indoor arena, an outdoor riding ring, and paddocks that surround a pristine 14 stall barn. They have agreed to sell the picturesque property at well below its market value, in hopes of restoring a horse community that is more accessible for local kids.

“They’ve done an amazing job with renovating it, and turning it into something that could be a real gift to the community,” said Sarah McKay, one of the task force members. “Something where Island kids have a place to come and they don’t have to have lots of expensive gear, or own a horse, or want to compete, necessarily.”

Open house on Friday, Nov. 27, is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Steve Myrick

The goal is to develop a program similar to Sail Martha’s Vineyard or Vineyard Youth tennis. The task force will host an open barn on Friday, Nov. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Misty Meadows. In addition to barn tours and meeting the volunteers, visitors will see demonstrations of natural horsemanship and equine-assisted learning. Pony rides, grooming lessons and a dressage performance are also planned.

Volunteers hope to raise $3.5 million to establish a nonprofit corporation to purchase the property, and at least $1 million more as an endowment to sustain farm operations.

But the group is not waiting to begin.

“We are starting two small pilot programs this winter, just to test the waters, to see how it all works, and see if we can get the community’s support,” Ms. McKay said.

A traditional riding instruction program will run for six weeks, with riders attending two sessions a week. Task force volunteer Samantha Look will lead the program.

“Twice a week will give the kids sort of a consistent flow of being with the horses to really come away from that six weeks with the foundation of a skill set, and a good sense of getting to know the horses,” Ms. Look said.

New center will have traditional riding lessons and an educational and therapeutic program. — Steve Myrick

“The idea is both traditional mounted instruction, and then lots of barn time as well, so that they are just, from the ground up, learning what it means to be a good horseman or horsewoman,” she said. “So that they are not just showing up and getting riding lessons, but having this more complete arc of what it means to take care of the horses.”

The other pilot program will be part educational and part therapeutic. Rebecca Miller, also a task force volunteer, will be the lead instructor in horse activities designed to boost confidence and instill a sense of empowerment for girls age 11 through 15.

“It will be children coming here for an educational experience and learning about themselves,” Ms. Miller said. “They’ll do exercises in the arena. They’ll be challenged, they’ll work through the challenge, and we’ll talk about it.”

In the future, the task force members hope to work with Rising Tide, a well established therapeutic riding program also in West Tisbury.

Misty Meadows farm is currently owned by Jerry and Carol Kenney. — Steve Myrick

“Rising Tide is doing an amazing job,” Ms. McKay said. “We’re not looking to do something they’re already doing. We’re in conversation with them about how, further down the road once we figure out our programs and make sure we can take this forward, how to work together.”

The community horse center programs will emphasize “natural horsemanship,” a discipline to train young horses by leveraging the animal’s natural instincts and ways of communicating rather than forcing submission, to teach the horse the skills it will need to do a specific job.

“What I’ve been studying is the foundation of horses, bringing a horse along from never being touched before, to mounted riding work,” said task force volunteer Emma McGlynn, who will get help from volunteer Tracy Amaral-Olsen. “Really starting with the basics and building a connection, and a feel between the horse and the rider.”

Many of the volunteers are not only donating their time and expertise, but their horses. Ms. McKay recently acquired two Thoroughbred racehorses who were winners at Suffolk Downs, and are now being retrained as riding horses. Also among the group is Ms. Miller’s wild Mustang named Shayna, who spent much of her life running in the wild. Ms. Look’s Welsh cross named Riesen who once worked on an Amish farm, and his buddy, a Quarter Horse named Charlie, will also be part of the pilot programs this winter.

Ms. McKay said the Island once had a much more vibrant horse community, but opportunities for kids to get involved with horses are dramatically diminished now, often because the cost has become a barrier.

“One of the great things about this is not only the off-season aspect, something inside for kids to do when school’s out, but also something that’s different from any of the other sports activities,” Ms. McKay said. “It’s a way to completely disengage with technology for a little while, and be in an environment where you have to be present.”

More information at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Horse Center’s website: mvhorsecenter.com.