STUDIO CITY (  —  The Shadow Hills Riding Club will be one of the vendors at Saturday’s Stephanie’s Day.

CBS2’s Lisa Sigell introduces the man behind the academy and the impact equine therapy has on kids with special needs.

“There’s a bonding with the horse  — patting the horse, grooming the horse, and it creates a bridge to be able to communicate to others,” says Johnny Higginson, program director of the academy.

The academy provides therapeutic programs to help people with physical and emotional disabilities.

“Many of these children come here who are non verbal, they find a way to community with these horses. They find a way to communicate with them; it’s a bridge,” says Higginson.

And, so far, it’s working.

Kaydin Shepherd, 10, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism two years ago. He’s been bonding, learning responsibility and gaining confidence with Jeannie for the last year and a half.

“So before it was a lot of temper tantrums and not being able to play with other children. Now, he is more verbal,” says his mom, Amanda Molano. “He can communicate better.”

Kaydin is now better able to temper his anger.

Johnny believes in a horse’s ability to communicate with energy. But if you asked Kaydin’s mom, she would say it’s about Johnny’s wisdom, patience and big heart.

“It makes me feel great,”Higginson says, getting emotional. “I think that you know if you find your passion in life and you get to do that passion whatever it is, every day, it’s not like going to work. I go out there every day, seven days a week, and it doesn’t feel like work to me.”

No one is ever turned away for lack of money.

Kaydin is a big fan of the program. Would he recommend it for other kids?

“I would say they should go try it. It helped me a lot,” he says.

If you come to Stephanie’s Day, you will certainly meet Dreamer, the miniature horse. You will also learn more about Shadow Hills Riding Club and their various programs. For more, click here.


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