MEDINA, Ohio - “Circle your horse,” said Sharon Biggins, Director at the Medina Creative Therapy Ranch, while training one of the kids in the program.
It’s a place for support and training for kids with special needs to help them develop and strengthen their skills both in the classroom and in the arena.
"This is all about opportunities," said Dianne DePasquale-Hagerty, CEO of Medina Creative Housing, the nonprofit funding this ranch and 18 other programs like this in the area.
Creating the opportunity for kids like Rachel Colahan to be like other kids is what it's all about.
“I like to ride them, I like to get on them and go phew," Colahan said.
They learn how to handle the horse, give it commands and even compete.
“A lot of these kids don't get to compete in their high school sports and community sports," said Biggins.
The team of nine athletes just got home from the State of Ohio Special Olympics Equestrian Competition in Cincinnati Ohio. They competed in Western and English equitation, barrel racing, show jumping, trail riding, showmanship and dressage, and came home with two gold medals, one silver medal and six bronze medals.
“I was afraid of horses and now I'm not," said Tashia Freeman, who won one of the gold medals at the competition.
But competing is just one part of what they do. While they ride, the kids are learning how to strengthen their sensory and motor skills, by going on a sensory trail on the ranch.
“We’ve actually had kids in our program who have spoken their first words on horseback," said Biggins.
Helping them with their confidence, so that when they leave, they know just how valuable they are.
“It really is confidence and independence, the independence piece is a big one," said Betty Romito, whose son Tony Romito has been in the program for three years.
One of the ways to help keep the ranch up and going so that it can be benefit to the kids are volunteers.
They are always in need of help. If you’re interested, you can click here.