Therapy horses help calm special need students

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A group of Rio Rancho special need students got some special attention from therapy horses as part of a program to help them feel just like everyone else.

“Horse therapy is very therapeutic for our students with special needs. It also provides an opportunity for all students to come together and have something in common to do,” said Ben Vigil, a special education teacher for Rio Rancho Public Schools.

Anya Hinkle is a sophomore at Cleveland High School. She has autism, but being around horses her entire life makes her forget about her troubles.

“They help me calm down by like sniffing me, or like playing with me,” she said.

These therapy horses are part of the Rio Rancho Inclusive Adventures Grant. A program designed to help students feel like they can blend in with their peers.

“We just want to give these guys some opportunities to fit in just like everybody else,” said Vigil.

For Anya, the inclusion isn’t only exclusive to humans.

“They’re animals and they have like life like us,” she said.

Vigil says even though the goal of the program is to make students feel included, it’s a great feeling to see his students find something to be excited about again.

“Really brings out her self confidence. She’s found something she’s passionate about.”

The grant included $94,000 to help fund these monthly activities. Next month, they plan on learning how to cook. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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