Absolutely Alabama: Happy Trails Ranch

(WXTX) - Ask any horse person and they'll tell you at times there's almost a mystical connection between horse and rider.

This week we take you to new market in Madison County where that connection is not only mystical but at times borders on miraculous.

Take a ride with us down a happy trail with a noble purpose that's Absolutely Alabama.

"We have 12 acres here and a hundred year old barn that sustained quite a bit of damage in the tornadoes two years ago," said Amy Seymour with Happy Trails Ranch. "We have 10 horses on the premises. We have several different areas where we ride. We have two different round pens," "We have our outdoor arena. We have an indoor arena and we have a sensory garden in the front which is wooded and it provides a quieter place but also in many ways more stimulation for the children."

Happy Trails Ranch may not be a giant spread by some standards and the barn may be showing its age a bit, but the mission of this place is bigger than all outdoors.

"Our children are all fabulous children," said Amy. "There's just a host of different problems but they all come to us and they all have fun and they all blossom."

Caden Cooper has been coming to Happy Trails for a year now and his dad Scott says the change has been remarkable.

"When I first brought him out here he would barely say a word," said Scott. "He had very little vocabulary at the time and he was real shy also so he would not say go to the horse or anything so it's been a big change. The year he's been out here he's riding really well."

"He has really blossomed during his time here," said Kathi Paul. "His speech has increased dramatically."

Don Paul and his wife Kathi are integral parts of Happy Trails.

In the outdoor arena Kathi is helping Veronica learning life in the saddle. She and her horse Bubba are just getting started.

"Couple years ago she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I had heard a lot of stories about Equine Therapy and Horse Therapy for children with autism so one day it just it hit me there's got a be a place here in Alabama that you know? Does therapy for kids like that. So I got on the Internet, did a little bit a research and I found Kathi's program."

"She loves horses so she knows a lot about horses, book knowledge, but she's taking all that and putting it together with the experiences with the actual horse and I think she's just gonna do great."

Veronica Peckens already knew a lot about horses when she came to Happy Trails but there are some things you just can't learn from a book.

"The main thing I like about Bubba is that he's really soft when you pet him," said Veronica. "And when you see the difference that it makes in the lives of those children you know? There's nothin' like it."

The mission of Happy Trails is simple; using horses to improve the lives of people. That's a special mission. These are special people and these happy trails are Absolutely Alabama.

Copyright 2014 WXTX. All rights reserved.