Horse ranch offers free therapeutic riding for children with special needs
There's a horse ranch in Cleveland, Tennessee offering free, therapeutic riding for at risk youth and children with special needs.
The therapy has dramatically improved the mobility and confidence for a little girl with cerebral palsy.
Jessica Harthorn paid it forward by surprising the ranch owner who's changing lives one horse ride at a time.
A few years ago, Kayla Davis says she heard a sermon that inspired her to make a difference.
So she took her love of horse riding and her passion for helping kids and created a non-profit called Mending Arrow Ranch.
It operates only on donations and grants and its helping a little girl get back on her feet.
On a dirt road in Cleveland, Tennessee you'll find beautiful horses, adorable baby goats and a therapy program that is completely free.
The mission of Mending Arrow Ranch is to serve the wounded, discarded, lost and broken-hearted.
It's also helping to heal 9-year-old Rylee Sanford.
"She's actually getting to do something that every kid gets to do. There's not a lot we can do in a wheelchair. She can't go to the beach, but she can ride horses," said Rylee's mother Lisa.
For more than a year, Rylee has been riding horses at Mending Arrow.
Her mother Lisa says the horse's movement has strengthened Rylee's chest muscles, improved her balance and given her a big reason to smile.
"It's just awesome, because you want everything for them," said Lisa.
Lisa also wants the woman behind Mending Arrow Ranch to know her charity work is appreciated.
Our cameras were rolling as little Rylee handed Kayla Davis $500 cash.
"On behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm, we want to Pay It Forward. Count it out Rylee, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5," surprised Lisa.
"Thank you Rylee, can I get a hug? Thank you sweet girl!" said Kayla.
After the surprise, Rylee didn't waste anytime showing us her favorite horse, Wyatt.
"What color is your brush?" asked Lisa. "Pink!" said Rylee.
She brushed his beautiful mane, put on a hot pink helmet and saddled up.
"Give one last good pull for me, big muscles!" encouraged Kayla as Rylee helped buckle the saddle.
Lisa says in the last year, Rylee's development has increased ten fold. When she first started riding she needed to be held on the horse, now her two sisters just put a hand on her leg for safety.
At home, she's sitting in a chair and talking more too.
"I just know that it's God, God working through me and through the horses to help them," said Kayla.
Kayla says being able to ride Wyatt is just the beginning for Rylee, a few years from now she wants her to help other kids too.
Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here!