Waller ranch offers therapy through horses for kids with autism

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Morning Glory Ranch in Waller County is making a difference in kids' lives (KTRK)

It's a ranch that offers more than just riding lessons. Morning Glory is helping children with autism build social skills.

Emily, 7, has just finished her ride. Before she dismounts, a few lessons to use off the horse.
Emily has autism.

"They can be very social and they want to be very social but they just don't know how," said Emily's mother, Michelle Kadera.

She's one of dozens in therapy at Waller's Morning Glory Ranch.

As 14-year-old Caitlin improves her riding skills, her social and academic skills have picked up, too.

"We've seen leaps and bounds in her confidence," said Caitlin's father, David Hoeppner. "Just by being able to do this and achieve something helps her boost her confidence totally."

While equine therapy has been around for centuries, this is different. One horse, one child, multiple therapists.

"It's not just about what's happening on the horse," said Kadera. "Once they dismount, the therapy goes on."

While the causes of autism are disputed, at Morning Glory, they're working with what happens after the diagnosis.

"As a parent of a child with special needs, you don't really care," said Dr. William Toth, board member of Morning Glory Ranch. "You just want your child to be well."

There, they are working with what happens after the diagnosis.

"It is really quite an amazing experience to witness," said Dr. Toth. "A horse is basically a giant electromagnet and when it interacts with a child, magic happens."

Dr. Toth believes the approach should go beyond the brain and include things like nutrition.

At the New Force for Good Arena, doctors, nutritionists and physical and occupational therapists will all measure the progress.

"I just wasn't quite ready to quit on the dream," said Kim Russell, executive director and founder of
Morning Glory Ranch.

Russell and Toth met on a plane while doing research on the same topic.

"When you have a child with autism who has never spoken a word and that child begins to speak, that's pretty powerful," said Russell. "Not just for us, but for the families."

For families, sometimes big strides come in really small steps.

If you want more information on Morning Glory, you can visit their website at MorningGloryRanch.org.
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