BARNESVILLE, MD - Horseback riding is a type of therapy used to help children suffering from a wide variety of disabilities.
A non-profit in Maryland uses the practice and is now looking to expand because of the success they've seen.
Ryan Dineen is gearing up for his 30 minute session of therapy.
The nine-year-old needs help saddling up to his "counselor," a horse named, Lady.
Pretty soon Ryan is trotting along, under the watchful eye of his parents.
"He has quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy which means he's affected in all four limbs and it affects his ability to speak and to walk," says Thomas Dineen, Ryans' father.
This therapeutic horseback riding program is called Circle of Hope. It uses animals as way to help children with disabilities grow stronger, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Horses like "Lady" go through a three-month trial period before going into the program. This is to make sure they have the temperant and the patience for the work.
After about a year in the program, Ryan can take control of the reins, with little help.
"I do it all by myself but I need a little bit of help outside," Ryan says.
Each stride of the thousand pound animal is bringing Ryan one step closer to walking on his own.
"She gives to him is movements that helps his muscles relax and helps him control his balance and develops his core strength," says Lesley Shear, director and founder of Circle of Hope.
"To see him when he gets on the horse, you can see that he lights up," says Thomas. "He has a real desire inside of him to run and to be like every kid out there.
It's a goal that now seems more attainable because of a special bond between a boy and his horse.
Dozens of kids like Ryan participate in the program, which is partially paid for by Circle of Hope. The organization is holding a Walk-A-Thon, to help raise money for the program on May 8th.
Click here for more information on the Walk-A-Thon.
Click here for more information on Circle of Hope.