WEST LINN, Ore. - Some horse lovers in West Linn are changing lives and creating smiles for children with disabilities.
"As soon as we brought her out, she was as happy as could be," said Brandy Bolnick, who takes her daughter, Kayla, to Happy Trails Riding Center.
The center is dedicated to using horsemanship to enhance the lives of children with disabilities and special needs. And the benefits are not hard to see.
"She used to slunch all the time and could not sit up straight," said Bolnick. "And now she's up straight all the time and her legs, she's getting a little bit more movement in her upper legs, which we've never seen before."
"I just get tons of smiles," said Rosemary Liniger, one of 45 volunteers at Happy Trails Riding Center. "I walk away from here and I'm just happy when I leave here."
Therapeutic riding is a passion for Executive Director Nicole Tangvald that stems from her own personal loss.
"I had a daughter who had a heart defect, so I spent a lot of time in the hospital with children who had a lot of different disabilities," she said. "I grew up with a sister who had cancer. And my riding partner for years is someone with cerebral palsey, so I've experienced a lot of challenges with getting him on the horse and riding. The little things that you think are so easy in a normal day are not for someone who has those types of disabilities."
The riding center offers group and private horse riding lessons for special needs and able-bodied people. They also host special events and birthday parties. Visit their Web site for more information.