Helping kids with special needs through horseback riding


KNOX COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH)–The pandemic created challenges for so many people during the past year. For families caring for a child or an adult with developmental disabilities, those challenges have been amplified.

In Knox County, The Shane Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship offers a unique and safe way to help those with special needs.

“They said she’d never walk or talk,” said Judy Williams when she recalled the diagnosis of her daughter, Samantha was given as a baby.

“She had an allergic reaction to her first DBT shot when she was just three months old,” Judy said.

The reaction caused Samantha to suffer a traumatic brain injury, and then Judy and her husband Bob discovered the Shane Center to get help.

“This program in my opinion, and I will say this over and over again, is a miracle program,” said Bob Williams.

Today, Samantha walks, talks, and rides a horse independently.

“She’s been in shows in the Delaware County Fair and won ribbons, and it’s just incredible,” said Judy.

Samantha has a favorite horse named “Toby.”

Toby is one of six horses in the therapy program that Karen Sanchez founded nearly 30 years ago.

“It’s neat to see the life skills that often times happen as a result of riding, we don’t always hear about them but when we do, we’re just pretty amazed,” said Sanchez, Executive Director of The Shane Center.

Karen explained that the program helps riders with balance, coordination, physical fitness, and the social life skills needed on their journey towards independence.

“Sometimes the horses provide the motivation that you can’t get in school,” said Sanchez.

Samantha rides with confidence and the Williams family feels grateful they found the program.

“Karen Sanchez, in my opinion, her name should be Anne Sullivan as she is in fact, a Miracle Worker,” said Bob.

To learn more about the program, visit:

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