Heart of the Horse is expanding

FRESNO, Calif.

For this amputee patient, his monthly visit to Children's Hospital Central California doesn't end inside the four walls of the facility. Part of the treatment he's been able to receive includes some time on horseback and his parents say they enjoy the calming effect the rides have on their son.

"It's actually pretty exciting the way he smiles, waves at everybody, and it's something different that we're never used to – actually ride a hose, so it's nice," said Jose Velasquez.

Every month, handlers with Heart of the Horse take a few of the animals to the hospital, allowing patients to go on the therapeutic rides. The group's founder says their goal is to change their lives mentally and physically.

"We want them to come away with this with a life-changing experience. Does that happen every time? No. But does it happen a lot? Oh yeah!" said Guy Adams.

Megan McKeon, 14, had her leg amputated when she was just 5 months old, but the burn survivor says she has a connection with her horse, and with each ride comes a sense of freedom.

"It feels like I'm free because usually I don't get to do very much alone," said McKeon. "Ever since I've coming out here, it's been pretty nice being able to control the horse on my own."

Through the years, dozens of patients' lives have been touched by the program. And for the man behind the mission, it's just as rewarding.

"I still get giddy just watching because these kids you see their eyes light up, you see the color come back into their skin, you see them fighting to move their bodies, and it just never ceases to amaze me," said Adams.

The program is already expanding. Heart of the Horse is bringing this same setup to Kaweah Delta Medical Center next month, with plans to visit Fresno special needs students in the near future.

For more information on this organization, visit www.heartofthehorseranch.com.

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