Riding Horses Gives Hope to Texomans With Disabilities - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Riding Horses Gives Hope to Texomans With Disabilities

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BOHNAM, TX--Because of one girl, a Texoma farm is letting those with physical and mental disabilities ride horses. The rides aren't just for fun. They help those with physical and mental disabilities build confidence.

Eleven-year-old Hannah Mills rides horses, but not just for sport. She rides them for physical and emotional therapy.  

"We found out at age three months old that Hannah has down syndrome, and at that point, my mother in law and father in law were interested in trying to help in any way that they could," Joleen Mills said, Hannah's mother.

When Hannah was an infant, her family looked for ways to help her grow and develop. Eight years ago, they found that equine therapy-- or riding horses--was an option. That's when Hannah's Horseshoes for Hope started. 

"When she first saw the horses, she was excited, and then she was scared and she didn't want to do it, so we thought we might be in a little bit of trouble, but after she got use to it, she just loves it," Joleen Mills said.   

Hannah's grandparents decided they wanted to help other children as well. On a farm just east of Bonham Texas, there are horses trained to help those with physical or mental disabilities. 

"We see an immediate change in children with autism especially. They form a bond with a horse and all the children do. It's very calming," Janice Mills, Hannah's grandmother said.

Not only is it relaxing, but the Hannah's Horseshoes for Hope Director says that it builds physical strength. 

"Really, being on a horse is not that easy," Lisbeth Echeandia said, director. "You know, you really have to use a lot of muscles and you have to concentrate, so it's very helpful, for example, where they have ADHD children, where they have to concentrate and pay attention because otherwise it just doesn't work."

Over the years, Hannah's parents say that her posture has improved significantly, as well as her self confidence. 

"I love to watch her," Joleen Mills said. "She just gets so excited with the horses, and just being around the people, and she's a very social person."

Thanks to Hannah's family, others are building strength and confidence as well.

Jen French, KTEN News

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