PEARCY, Ark. – Out of the doctor’s office and into the stables, special needs children have a new form of therapy in Garland County.

Making their way to the arena, Patrick Hallahan and his pediatric therapist Annemie Crews get ready to start the day’s session. Crews work with Hallahan on his speech and movement.

“He struggles to lie back and that’s something we work on in the clinic and we’re able to carry it over to the horse,” Crews said.

Hallahan is autistic and non-verbal. He was the first patient at Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center.

“Patrick usually takes some time to warm up to things and by time, I mean a few weeks,” his mother Samantha Hallahan said.

That’s why she said she couldn’t believe what happened on his first day.

“Slowly he started getting more comfortable and you saw him start checking out the saddle. I’m filling out some paperwork and look up and he’s on the horse and I just started crying I was so excited for him,” Hallahan said.

Those moments owner Katja Summerlin loves to see, not just with her clients but her own son.

“Aiden is five years old. He’s non-verbal, has Downs Syndrome,” Summerlin said.

She said he’s the reason she started this program, to help families just like hers.

“You crave those moments. You’re like oh there’s more,” Summerlin said.

With each session, the kids leave the arena stronger and with a smile.

Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center is having its first fundraiser Saturday, October 23rd. It is at the Reserve at 5:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, you can contact (612) 636-9412 or email