Horse Therapy Making a Difference for Disabled Children
By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The healing power of horses is helping a number of disabled Oklahoma children and their families.
At Harvest Farms, north of Shawnee, the volunteer staff provides equine therapy to kids with special needs. Some children have autism or a learning disability. Others have Down syndrome.
"Part of it is the movement that the horse puts into the body of the child. It allows certain sensations to be released in the brain of the child to help their body relax," said Dr. Travis Crowe, Harvest Farms executive director.
Jackie Wilks had the idea six years ago when she saw children who were falling through the cracks.
"I talked to my husband and I said, 'Tom, what about doing something like this?' And he said, 'and how do we propose to do it?' And I said, 'well we can refinance our house and build a barn and put fencing around.' And believe it or not, after a lot of prayer, he said we can do it," said Jackie Wilks, Harvest Farms Founder.
Now the opportunity to train, show, love and ride the horses is making a difference.
"I've had kids out here who have hugged their parents for the first time after working with horses. I've had children who've talked for the first time after working with horses," Wilks said.
Families said the difference the therapy makes in their child's life is priceless.
"It builds his self esteem, and you see the pride of him just sitting up straight and loving on the animal that he doesn't normally have with others," Lori Roberts, parent of child who receives therapy at Harvest Farms.