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Horse therapy helping children with Autism

Autistic children gain from horse therapy

The principal players on this sunny April afternoon are a curious trio: A 4-year-old boy and a dark-bay pony, 20 years his senior, plodding along under the watchful gaze of a retired police investigator.

As mismatched as they seem, they are hard at work making sense of all five senses.

The tiny boy and the tall, blonde woman take turns listening and speaking, making eye-contact and touching, as Annie patiently sets one hoof in front of the other around the small riding ring outside Brevard.

It's slow going, but the weekly horse-assisted therapy session is life-changing for Greyson Laughter, a preschooler from Edneyville, according to his mother, Mary Laughter.

“Greyson, say 'walk on',” Mary Stoehr, 64, instructs in a firm, hard-to-ignore voice, as she scrutinizes Greyson in a way that gives away her past as a police investigator. Two “side-walker” volunteers keep Greyson stable as the Connemara pony trudges and stops, trudges and stops.

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