Tarleton State University’s TREAT riding program provides physical, mental and emotional therapy to people with disabilities, and several area schools brought their students to TREAT’s Special Kids Rodeo event Tuesday morning.

Shelby Price has been the TREAT coordinator/instructor for three years and knew this is where she wanted to be after attending one of the events her senior year of high school.

“I left the barn knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Just the way the kids smile and the look on their faces when they get on a horse is incredible,” Price said. “And it’s also beneficial for our volunteers that come. It’s fun to watch them think that they’re going to be tough or just stand around and then they get attached to some of these kids and they’re laughing and smiling, it’s huge. They probably get more out of it than our participants; I know I do.”

The rodeo featured horseback riding, a petting zoo, face painting and stick horse racing.

“This definitely gives you a different perspective on life. It makes you feel thankful for everything you have and it’s a great chance to help kids,” said sophomore student-volunteer Colby Wahlert. “The kids get really excited and it’s just a really cool deal.”

The equine assisted activities not only help those with physical and mental handicaps, but those with emotional and social disabilities as well and the TREAT rodeo event is held twice a year for area students.

Vanessa Halford, founder of White Horse Christian Academy, said her students have volunteered at three TREAT rodeos since the academy started.

“I just think service activities are very important because our children don’t know how good they have it and when they get here they learn to appreciate what they have,” Halford said. “This is the kids' favorite event. In fact, attendance is really good on TREAT day. They love it, it makes them feel good, and we need to give back to others who aren’t as fortunate as we are.”