Students learn horse riding skills, build confidence at Manhattan’s Hope Ranch

Local News

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) — A Manhattan ranch is using horse riding as a way to help people in the community both mentally and physically.

When six-year-old Colt Hoke walks through the doors at Hope Ranch, he greets his buddy Yaya the mini horse and gets ready to ride.

Colt has a mild case of cerebral palsy that affects the muscles in his legs. That’s why his mom Nikki Sexton brings him to Hope Ranch for equine therapy.

“As a mom and a parent, you can kind of just relax,” said Sexton. “You know that he’s going to fit in. You don’t see the disabilities. Nobody else really does around him. He’s just a kid riding a horse, enjoying life.”

Equine therapy helps riders with things like balance and coordination as they practice a variety of horse riding skills.

“Seeing the kids light up when they do something new or they do something on their own for the first time, just seeing them giggle and smile is my favorite,” said Instructor Sophia Brown.

Not everyone who comes to Hope Ranch is looking to improve physically.

For riders like Ruby Smith and Sarah Scheele, it helps them gain confidence.

“It’s really fun and I feel nice after because I have accomplished something,” said Scheele.

“It makes me feel like I can do a lot more stuff than I used to and I can do more stuff than I used to now,” said Smith.

The riders aren’t the only ones who benefit from the process. Volunteer Jennifer Re said she gains just as much watching the program make an impact on people’s lives.

“This is kind of teaching my girls to give back to the community and we leave as if we just had a therapy session after spending what six, seven hours with horses and students,” said Re.

For riders and volunteers alike, being involved with Hope Ranch has been a life changing experience and makes them feel like anything is possible.

For more information about Hope Ranch, click HERE.

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