JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - For 16-year-old Alex Daley of Biloxi, a unique horse show at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds was about more than winning a first place medal.
He's been riding since he was two years old; it's an important part of his therapy for cerebral palsy.
"I guess it's better than sitting in this wheelchair. I get to move more often," said Daley.
"It helps him sit up a lot better, he walks a lot better, and just, physically, it helps him do more than he could do otherwise," said Lisa Daley, Alex's mother.
For the 35 disabled riders competing in the annual Dixie National Special Needs Horse Show, the contest lets them show off years of hard work, and gives them something to look forward to.
"It gives them a reason to go on. Some people who can't walk, the horse makes it possible for them to get around and be like you and I," said Mary Hopkins of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association, which is co-sponsoring this year's horse show.
According to organizers, it's the only event of it's kind in the Southeast. Riders come from across the state, and even as far as Texas, to compete at state fairgrounds in Jackson.
"They want to compete. A lot of places, they'll give everyone a first place medal. That's not ok with these kids. They want to be 1st, 3rd, 6th," said Lana Mapes, founder of the horse show and instructor at Aztec Farms, one of the show's sponsors.
"I try to teach him there's nothing he can't do. If everyone else can ride horses, there's no reason why he can't," said Lisa Daley.
All riders who participate in the one-day event are able to do so free of charge.
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