There was no neigh about it.
Not from the horses, or from the kiddos, either.
The youngsters, who have special needs, spent the afternoon on April 29 taking part in SaddleUp for Autism at Kiddy Up Ranch, in Hudson.
The event was one of various inclusive activities offered by the Pasco County Parks, Recreation, & Natural Resources Department during April, which is Autism Awareness Month.
Children and their parents were able to spend time on the small farm, interacting with and feeding farm animals, riding and grooming horses, including friendly painting them and just playing on the grounds on an overcast afternoon.
“I really liked riding the horse,” said 16-year-old Oliver Rice, from Oldsmar.
He recalled that he had rode on a horse when he was 3 and was scared at that time, but said he enjoyed the experience this time.
Kiddy Up Ranch staff, led by founder and owner Tammy Sliger, guided helmet-clad kiddos around on horses. In addition to helping them with the horses, Sliger also helped the children interact with bunnies, hogs, goats and other animals on the compound.
Sliger started Kiddy Up Ranch more than 12 years ago as a way to provide horse therapy to kiddos with special needs, as well as those suffering traumas, such as PTSD in veterans and those who have survived human trafficking.
“The number of people suffering human trafficking in this county keeps growing,” Sliger said. “Horse therapy really helps them and these kids with special needs.”
Saddle Up For Autism was the final inclusive activity the parks department put on in April, following the Adaptive Sports Day at Wesley Chapel District Park and the “At Bat 4 Autism” Home Run Derby at Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex.
Senior Recreation Coordinator Kimberly Miller runs these inclusive activities through the department’s Pasco Adaptive & Inclusive Recreation (P.A.I.R) program, which provides active events and activities for those with disabilities.
For more information on Kiddy Up Ranch, call 727-868-5433. For more information on P.A.I.R, visit PascoCountyFl.net.
Published May 17, 2023