Redding Rodeo Week puts 'Special Kids' in the spotlight

May 13, 2014 5:46 PM

Most seasoned riders can still remember the very first time they got on a horse.

"His name was Peso, and he was the neighbor girl's horse. He put me into the fence and I still got a scar," said Redding Rodeo Association member Rick Williams.

Every year, the Redding Rodeo Association teams up with the Asphalt Cowboys to give a group of kids with special needs their own first experience.

"I was riding a horse. The horse's name was Joe. It had sparkles on it," said Mistletoe Elementary student Edwin Sanchez.

So what exactly is it about riding horses that's so special?

The smiles on the kids' faces makes it obvious.

"When you take their picture and you see them on top of that horse, all you see is smiles," said Asphalt Cowboy Rick Thurmond.

Tammy Neel, who brought her class from Mistletoe Elementary, says that horses help many of her students who have autism or other learning disabilities.

"Riding horses is very therapeutic. It gives a lot of information on their body sensory when they're riding," she said.

"It feels like it's bumpy, riding a horse, like you're going on a road full of rocks and it's bumpy," said student Jesus Perales.

Special Kids Day first started in the 1950's, and the organizers intend to keep it going well into the future.

"Seeing all these young kids, and seeing their faces light up is definitely a great kick-off to Rodeo Week," said Asphalt Cowboy Dusten Harris.


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