When it comes to helping children with special needs, a Jackson County business is ready to jump in the saddle. Folks at the Pony Patch feel horses can make a difference in young lives.
Cross Kuhn's first horse ride got off to a rough start, but in no time the 6-year-old looked like a jockey.
"Where you scared?" I asked him.
"No," he said.
"Well, why weren't you scared?" I continued.
"I'm not scared," he insisted.
A trip to the Pony Patch brought plenty of firsts for dozens of Special Education students from St. Martin East and St. Martin North elementaries.
Third grader Logan Necaise says several of his classmates were inexperienced riders.
"My friend named Gage. He's been on a horse once in his life and that was just now."
Karen Davidson-Travis runs the Pony Patch with her family. She says a very special little boy convinced them to make it more than a place for birthday parties.
"My step-son Ryan Travis has Down Syndrome," said Davidson-Travis. "When I met him a couple of years ago, he was terrified of animals and now he loves these horses. So it inspired us to offer free field trips to the Special Ed children in this community."
Gina Norris is a Special Ed teacher.
"A lot of times our kids have so many fears and have so many built up feelings and anxieties. By being around animals that are well trained and well mannered and people who have so much patience with them, they are given a chance to touch to feel to see."
The students are free to touch and feel at no charge since the Pony Patch provides everything including lunch without cost to parents.
"Many of our children don't even have what they need so it's just amazing," said Norris. "It's too much. Grateful is not even the word. "
Some students said it was a day they'd never forget.
"I like animals so much," said third grader Breanna Adams. "I really love them so much."
"Why do you want to ride the horse again?" I asked Cross Kuhn.
The 6-year-old told me matter of factly "'Cause I love it. It's fun."
The Travis family says they plan to offer more free field trips to Special Education Students when the school year starts back. They plan to bring in pigs, rabbits and other animals.
For booking information, call (228) 588-0709