UPDATED: Monday, June 23, 2014 - 9:06pm
McGREGOR, TX — Horses are known for their free spirit and elegant stride but a group of horses that graze the pastures in McGregor are providing therapy to those with special needs.
This is 2 and a half-year-old Mason, ready to take this pony for a ride. His parents are not training him to be the next jockey,instead he's learning how to speak.
"We use more words, combine words to request and say what it is he wants."- Says Jenny Sullivian, Hope Therapy Speech Pathologist.
Mason is part of the Hippotherapy program at R.E.A.C.H Riding Center that helps use horses to achieve therapy goals.
Having completed only two seasons at R.E.A.C.H, Mason mother say's, she's seen a dramatic difference in her little boy.
"It's incredible, when we started this process he was only saying one word. He had a lot of words that he would say but just one word at a time and he has just blossomed through this program." Jennifer Salisbury, client of R.E.A.C.H.
The program's open environment is part of the holistic therapy, brining patients away from the confined doors of a clinic and into the peaceful pastures in McGregor.
"We don't want to be just another therapy, our environment is part of our therapy." Says Barbara Epps, Executive Director of R.E.A.C.H.
Each task in the program serves a purpose, promoting cognitive retention, fine motor skills and social skills.
"Each individual within their disability needs can benefit from a different aspect of riding."
The horses and staff develop a deep personal connection with the family, creating a community environment.
"We want to embrace not just the riders and their participants, but their families and their caregivers as well."
Some may say the horse are the real heroes but the staff at R.E.A.C.H know, it's the riders and their will to overcome.
The R.E.A.C.H Riding Center is a non-profit organization that was founded by Larry Barnett in 2007. The center provides three different therapy session on 15-acres of pastures. The programs offered by R.E.A.C.H are, Hippotherapy, Therapeutic Riding and a Horses for Heroes Veterans program.
The Therapeutic Riding session uses horses and equine-assisted activities in order to achieve goals and enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavior and educational skills for people who have dissabilities.The program is designed to increase fine motor skills,gross motor skills, core strength, balance and coordination, social skills and sensory integration.
Hippotherapy uses the movement of the horse as a tool in conjunction with various treatment techniques to achieve specific therapy goals conducted by a licensed professional.
The Horses for Heroes program assist wounded veterans through the use of equine assisted activities. Solider diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, amputations, burns and neurological impairment can benefit from the therapy of horses.
For more information on ways you can join, support or volunteer with R.E.A.C.H, visit http://www.reachtrc.org