BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - Some Lowcountry children with disabilities are building self esteem while on horseback at a therapeutic summer camp.
It's called Heroes on Horseback, which is a riding program for people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.
The camp is being held at the Tulifinny Preserve, where the children are learning much more than riding.
"Sit up nice and straight," said a volunteer to participant 6-year-old Malachi Hudson, who is battling autism.
"Are you ready to go?," said a volunteer.
Atop his trusty horse named Blues Eyes, Hudson told the horse to "walk on." He clutched his reigns.
"You know, these are the specials needs children. The ones that are left behind, the ones that don't accomplish in their pier group," said program director Peggi Lyn Noon. "They might not be able to accomplish certain things, but on the horse, they take the power of the horse and they learn so much."
"Keep your hands up so you look like your riding that pony off into the wilderness," Noon told Hudson. "Look what talent you have."
Hudson is one of the many success stories at the Heroes on Horseback camp.
While sitting on a horse, children like Malachi are able to learn many new skills and some children even say their first word while riding a horse.
"When I work with children in the a clinic setting, sometimes we have to deal with lots of behavior problems, but here we have children that will lean forward and touch the horses ear or lean back and touch the horses tail, and they don't know that they are working on balance, or they will say walk on or go," said Volunteer and Speech Pathologist Valerie Parsons.
"Walk on," Hudson said.
Horse therapy is also beneficial for wheelchair-bound children because the movement of the horse mocks the natural movement of human's hips.
"When we put them on that horse and they move for 45 minutes, there muscles begin to loosen up and their muscles are more limber," said Noon.
Improving the lives of children one stride at a time.
"Walk on blue eyes, walk on," said Hudson grabbing Blue Eye's reign. "Let's go," said a volunteer back to Hudson.
For information or how to volunteer or donate to Heroes on Horseback visit their website.