Reno, Nev. - It's the same kind of therapy that helped Jaycee Lee Dugard begin to heal after being kidnapped, and now, it's helping people in our area.
Horse therapy is becoming more and more popular, because it produces tangible results, and is even covered by health insurance. It works for kids, teens and adults, and can help with emotions, behavior, and even socialization.
In our area, one boy started to transform his life after just one month of therapy at Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy in South Reno.
8-year-old Gabriel Caron comes for horse therapy twice a week. He's all smiles now, but he hasn't always been that way.
"He would slam his head into walls, and to the floor, and throwing himself on the ground and trying to break bones," said his aunt, and adoptive mother, Rachel Blinn.
Gabriel hasn't had an easy life. His father left when he was younger, and his mother had abusive boyfriends before she passed away. Now, he's learning to get along with his aunt, who's adopting him. She says she didn't even realize all of the issues he was dealing with.
"People in his life have been so mean, and have hurt him so much, that he like, rejects the people and doesn't trust people," said Blinn.
But over the last month, Gabriel has been working with a therapy horse named Baxter, and everyone is noticing a change in his mood and his behavior.
"It helps me, because my emotions aren't, like, so high. Because they used to be, like, really high. And like when I was mad, I was really mad, but now it's not like that," said Gabriel.
"He's not hurting himself as much, like the horse therapy makes him aware of his own physical body," said Blinn.
His aunt says she tried everything before turning to horse therapy, and now she' can't believe just how quickly she saw improvement.
"Now, I'm more in a happy mood," said Gabriel.
"Horses have a lot to offer. They are an incredibly motivating experience. Kids want to be with horses," said co-owner of Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, Laurie Roberts.
Gabriel now makes a conscious effort not to hurt himself, like he did before, because he knows if he gets hurt, he won't be able to ride his horse until he heals, says his aunt.
At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, Roberts and her business partner, Bambi Spahr, build treatment plans depending on each patient's specific goals. For Gabriel, he has to get Baxter to listen and obey commands, just like how he has to listen to his aunt, and his teachers.
"We're just able to get to the heart of things," said Roberts.
Gabriel knows it's therapy, but it's more than that for him, too.
"I just think it's fun!" said Gabriel!
His aunt reports Gabriel is doing better and better each time he goes to horse therapy, and has even started to make new friends.
He's adjusting to a brand new school this year, and planning to continue coming for horse therapy.
For more information, visit NevadaEquineAssistedTherapy.com.