Organizers say Horses for Handicapped changes lives - - Jackson, MS

Organizers say Horses for Handicapped changes lives

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -  Hundreds of people from around the state made their way to the fairgrounds this week for an event some called "life-changing."

"It was awesome!" said six-year-old Max Coon, of riding a horse.  He's in the special needs program at Madison Crossing Elementary.

Coon was one of nearly 1,700 people with disabilities participating in the four-day Horses for Handicapped.

"A lot of these kids, they're bound to wheelchairs.  They can't go to the fair and do other activities like their friends can.  It's an amazing feeling you get when you come down and just look at their eyes and the smiles on the faces of these kids," said Les Tannehill, vice president of Horses for Handicapped.

And it's not just for kids.  The program draws people of all ages.

"It's fun.  I like riding horses," said Chiquita Powell, a 20-year-old senior in the special needs program at Crystal Springs High School.

The program has to be very selective with the horses it uses.  The animals must be very gentle and calm.

And there were customized horse-drawn wagons so people with wheelchairs can enjoy them as well.

"When you leave here, if you're not a changed person and realize that the small issues we have in life are not real issues, then nothing's going to change that thought in your mind," said volunteer Stephanie Barnes.

In its 29th year, Horses for Handicapped has more participants than ever, and that means this non-profit's need has grown too, especially in a tough economy.

"It's a big wheel, and we need every spoke on that wheel to make this whole thing roll, so just get involved," said Barnes.

The event runs through Thursday afternoon.

For more information on Horses for Handicapped, call Stephanie Barnes at 769-798-8412 or email  You can also find the organization on Facebook.

The organization fundraises for the event by selling t-shirts. You can buy one at Britches and Boots on Interstate 55 in Terry.  You can contact the store at 601-878-0021.

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