BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - From racetracks to farms, horses are talented animals in many ways - including therapy.
Gaitway Therapeutic Horsemanship, a non-profit group that provides therapy for special needs adults and children in the Baton Rouge area, opened its new facility Wednesday.
Gaitway founder Shelley Rose says the way horses move is very similar to humans. She says the horses force people to mimic movements their bodies may not be able to do on their own.
"It's just amazing what the vast array of disabilities that we can assist with, and then it's just flat-out fun. That's the best part. It's so much fun that you're working and you're working a lot harder than you think," said Rose.
Four-year-old Hadley is in the horse therapy program. Her mom, Mimi Henderson, says these sessions have made a world of a difference in her child both physically and emotionally.
"It also helps, you know, just with self-esteem. You know, she can do amazing stuff on the horse, and it's great to see and it makes her feel good knowing she can do it," said Henderson.
Dozens of volunteers help rose at Gaitway, and Gaitway, in turn, helps them.
"It's been life changing for the volunteers. I've seen high school students coming to get their service hours and then making a lifetime decision," said Rose.
Rose says several volunteers have decided to study therapy so they can continue to help the adults and kids they've met at the barn.
Right now, Gaitway specializes in helping special needs kids and adults. Rose hopes to expand the program in the future, to help people such as injured veterans as well.