BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- More than 20 Rogers students have been practicing their horse riding skills for the past 10 weeks, so they could put them on display Tuesday (May 3) at the 9th annual Special Olympics Equestrian Event at Horses for Healing in Bentonville.
Jacob Bruyere, 10, has been riding at Horses For Healing through a school-based program since he was in kindergarten. His mother Kimberely Bruyere said therapeutic riding has given her son more confidence.
"It's just an awesome thing for our children or for any child, but I think with our children it really helps them to think about what to do,” said Bruyere.
According to Horses for Healing Operations Director Debbie Studybin, this form of therapy is different from most others that can be repetitious or even painful.
"They're having fun and learning something that can help them," she said. "We always parallel everything that they learn about the horses and the things they do here with their own life skills."
There are more than 2,000 therapeutic riding programs worldwide, but Horses for Healing is one of just 200 that are considered premiere centers. According to Studybin, that means the center meets all of the standards for programming and safety.
"Some of the children today couldn't even speak out loud when they first came," she said. "They are so motivated that they are commanding the horses verbally. Some of them are even riding independently now and these are all things that will help them in life."
Bruyere is grateful to see the progress her son has made and looks forward to what the future will bring.
“How to follow directions and instructions, so he can be productive in society and have a job that he can actually keep, and learn and hope, to be a friend to other people,” said Bruyere.
Horses for Healing will have their annual barn dance on June 11. It's the center's biggest fundraiser of the year.