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Horseback riding provides therapy for kids and adults with disabilities

Kids and adults with disabilities showcased their horseback-riding therapy skills in Red Arena's annual showcase.

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — Saturday was the biggest day of the year for over 100 kids and adults with disabilities.

It was Red Arena's annual horseback-riding showcase.

Red Arena provides therapy for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities through horseback riding. The kids and adults have therapy sessions each week to practice their riding skills.

The Haughton family's twin sons, Jackson and Boyd, have been looking forward to the showcase for a long time.

"The boys practice all year, and this is kind of their end of the year, to get them basically to showcase what they've learned all year and what they've been working on,” said Trae Haughton, the boys' dad.

Founder Jennifer Young said horseback riding helps people who are learning to walk or struggling with balancing skills.

"It's not only fun being on the horse, but just the horse walking helps shift their pelvis in the three dimensions that we need for walking,” Young said.

Young said it builds more than just physical strength.

"Not only do they get all that strength built, we're getting confidence, self-esteem, communication, it just hits everything that we want for our developing kids,” Young said. “There’s really just not a diagnosis that doesn’t benefit in some way from being on the horse.”

And it's something Young has seen over the 13 years of doing the showcase.

"One of our riders, Noah, he's on drill team now,” Young said. “When he started, he wasn't speaking and he started with speech therapy and physical therapy and he had lots of helpers. And now he's riding independent on drill team."

Even though Saturday's event was for the riders, it meant just as much to the families who were watching them.

"I grew up playing sports, so that was hard for me when I thought they might not ever get to be a part of a sport," said Megan Haughton, Jackson and Boyd’s mom. "And seeing them ride horses is very sweet and touching to my heart."

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