SCOTTSDALE, AZ - A north Scottsdale horsemanship school is doing extraordinary work helping those with disabilities learn to ride and take care of horses.
Now the program is inspiring even its youngest riders to give back to the community and lend a hand at the school.
Patrick Bonner, 15, has been riding horses for more than five years. He says he likes the movement of the horse because “it feels like I can walk."
Patrick has been in a wheelchair since he had a stroke at just nine months old.
"I feel independent because I ride more independently a lot," Bonner says of his love of riding.
When he's riding at Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship the honor student feels like he can accomplish anything.
"I think it's amazing that disabled kids are able to do something that sometimes they aren't able to get the opportunity to have," Bonner says.
Camelot offers horsemanship courses and riding lessons to kids and adults with disabilities.
There's no charge for the services but Executive Director Mary Hadswell says that doesn't mean it's a free ride.
"Once they've mastered skills and a good base knowledge of horsemanship, they will in turn mentor incoming riders," Hadswell says.
Patrick is now mentoring 11-year-old Jesse Franklin and the two have formed a close bond.
Patrick said, "I felt nervous when I first came here and I think he does. He might feel nervous too, but if he has someone like me to help him out he might feel a little bit better.”
That level of understanding and giving back is exactly what Hadswell hopes the students take away from their lessons.
"When student becomes teacher that might be an opportunity for someone who has a visual impairment to be mentored by an adult with a visual impairment and that might be the first time that young rider says 'wow, that's someone who has done something with his life and I want to be just like them," Hadswell says.
Patrick hopes to own his own horse one day and to continue to ride.
For more information on the school visit www.camelotaz.org .
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