Operation Challenge used Equine Therapy with N.P. Co. Sheriff's Mounted Posse members

LEWISTON, ID - Individuals with special needs gathered for the 20th annual "Operation Challenge" event this past weekend.

Reporter Sophia Miraglio tells us that being a cowboy or cowgirl is really nothing more than a state-of-mind.

Individuals with disabilities are often limited in what they can and cannot do. However, that was far from the case on Saturday as everyone turned into a cowboy and cowgirl at the 20th annual Operation Challenge.

"Oh, you know I don't like to brag but I'm kinda good at it," said Randen Heighs. "One hand is kinda a little bit difficult but it's alright, it's no big deal."

Asotin County resident Todd Fuller even gave me a lesson on how to ride.

"You get on the horse, you put your feet into it and the other side same thing and people help you ride the horse," said Fuller.

Each year the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Mounted Posse makes a difference in the lives of children and adults by using horses as a form of therapy.

"There's just something about an animal like this, it will bring it out of them to speak maybe they wouldn't have spoken," said Mounted Sheriff's Posse Chief, Betty Barnes. "We get a smile out of them, and it's just a great experience."

"It doesn't matter what people say or do because it's kinda a good thing for us to have our special disabilities," said participant Randen Heighes. "And I love riding horses, it's fun and for me it's a good thing to have."

Equine therapy is one of the fastest growing trends throughout the nation and Posse member Jack Stroud said one of the reasons that is, is because once your on the horse you can feel the movement of the horse underneath you.

"Especially if it's one of the one's in a wheelchair because they feel like they're walking because they can feel the movement of the horse," said Stroud.

Not every horse has the right combination of gentleness and patience to be a therapy horse.

"We get on them, we jump up and down on them, we holler, and for any reason if there's any problem we pull them, said Stroud.

"My best horse is Dakota, I like that horse," said Fuller.

Jack Stroud said the 21st Operation Challenge will be held the first Saturday in May of 2015.