Thousands of disabled children and adults take a thrilling ride - - Jackson, MS

Thousands of disabled children and adults take a thrilling ride during Horses for Handicapped

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

For children and adults with disabilities, a horseback ride is a rare treat. But this week thousands filled the state fairgrounds for an adventurous thrill during Horses for Handicapped.

Wagon riders and visitors to the 37th annual Horses for Handicapped are in for a treat at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.

For four days each April, two thousand disabled children, and adults get out of their comfort zones and atop a horse for the ride of a lifetime.

"His name is Jack," said Helen Crawford of Louisville as she sat in Jack's saddle and patted the neck of her new friend.

This is her first trip with the group home to Horses for Handicapped.

"He goes around and around," said Crawford.

When asked what she liked about it the 56-year-old said, "It's a beautiful thing".

It is a feeling shared by participants from more than 30 counties and 90 schools and development and regional centers from across the state.

"I like the walking around," said eight-year-old Travarius Martin from Eva Gordon Elementary School. "It's good for me, and my mama said I need to train to ride horses".

Ashley Douglas of Utica is among the 250 volunteers who make this happen each year.

"Some of them get on there and they'll be really scared, but about halfway through they'll have the biggest smile and they'll be laughing and we just get to interact with them and they're just really sweet people," Douglas recounted while smiling about her time helping the riders and walking with them around the Livestock Judging Arena.

There are also games, bounce houses, and a favorite, the petting zoo.

The kids and adults not only get to make friends with the horses and take a ride but find out what farm life is like.

They get to hold cuddle and play with animals like bunnies, chicks, ducks, sheep and even a baby hedgehog.

It's an experience Katrina Owens with MS 4H Extension says they look forward to each year.

The Yazoo County 4H Club brings animals each year to the event.

"We know it's a gift that we get to enjoy every day, and so we want to offer that to those kids, " said Owens. "We just get out of it seeing the smile on their faces. We've had teachers tell us that's the only time their children smile is when they come to this event. So we love to be a part of that".

Horses for Handicapped president Sharon Perry says the horses have an innate ability to sense the need in a person.

The animals give the riders a wonderful experience which makes great memories. 

"We actually call this the Mississippi State Fair for the disabled," said Perry. "They might have mental problems, they might have physical problems, but you see the whole body just melt into the saddle. There seems to be a bonding between the people and the horse."

Horses for Handicapped is a free event which operates on donations and volunteers for the horse rides, petting zoo, games and other activities.

To learn more or to get involved go to the Horses for Handicapped website.

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