Riding with a Purpose

September 11, 2013 Updated Sep 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM EDT

By WKBW News

September 11, 2013 Updated Sep 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Ryan Saunders loves to ride his horse Alec.

“I like this program because it gives me the chance to be around other kids with disabilities, be with horses and wonderful people,” Saunders said.

Ryan’s mother Debbie Saunders said it has changed his life.

“He has Spina Bifida along with heart problems. His legs don't work so it's very difficult to play in any sports but the horseback riding gives him the chance to participate,” Debbie Saunders said.

Ryan is part of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center. This center helps disabled children mentally and physically, while also building confidence.

“Therapeutic riding to build core strength, build balance, motor skills. It also helps emotional. We have people from all different walks of life and backgrounds come in here,” Riding Instructor Katharine Jemison said.

Now, the center is holding its biggest fundraiser of the year to assure that these children and others will be able to continue riding.

”This week is the Buffalo international Horse Show we have every year.All the proceeds benefit the Therapeutic riding Center. There is a horse show, lessons lots of different events,” Riding Instructor Amanda Calistro said.

The Equestrian Center also welcomes other riders not involved with the therapy. They offer classes and camps for kids. They say for all the children, it is not only about riding but the bond with their horses.

“I think me and Alec are a lot alike.. He's goofy I'm goofy,” Saunders said.

Debbie Saunders said it has built Ryan’s confidence and that is one of the most important aspects of the program.

“Really think he is better because of the horse riding because he sees that even if he can't walk he can ride,” Debbie Saunders said.