PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When the kids arrive at the farm, they are sometimes apprehensive. Many times, though, when they leave they’re smiling and have a sense of accomplishment.
Anne Davis started the non-profit Horses with Hope in Bethel Park nine years ago. Therapeutic riding is offered at the farm, helping children with special needs, veterans and others in the community.
Davis started the program after learning her daughter would be born with Down syndrome. She decided to leave the airline industry and dedicated her work to Horses with Hope.
“Through the research of Down syndrome, I came across therapeutic riding and a light went off and I knew instantly that I was to do this,” Davis told KDKA’s Heather Abraham.
On the day Abraham visited the farm, a group of children from Pittsburgh’s Conroy School were there for a session.
Tricia Keen is a physical therapist at Conroy.
“So often, when you work with individuals with disabilities, they’re told no, no, no. You can’t do this. You won’t get this,” said Keen. “Our job is to tell them yes. Yes, you can, you will and you are going to.”
The program has helped countless children not only in physical abilities, but also helping them build self-confidence.
Last time he was at the farm, 16-year-old Gage refused to get on a horse. He started to protest again, but with encouragement, he saddled up. You could see him light up, beaming with confidence.
“I did it!” Gage yelled from the horse, pumping his arms triumphantly in the air. Davis says this is what the program is all about.
“I always say that every person who takes a step on this farm, enters as one person and leaves a changed person,” Davis said.
“The growth that I’ve seen in these kids has just been unbelievable,” Keen said.
It’s a simple ride that is life-changing.
“Sometimes, we’ll even see where they’re non-verbal, they actually start to speak,” said Keen.
Like we’ve seen time and time again, helping others has a profound effect on those giving the gift.