Family of man with autism hoping to raise money for therapy horse at Kansas City, Kansas ranch

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — A Kansas City, Kansas, ranch needs help.

Due West Ranch trains and offers riding therapy for people with disabilities. One of their horses who has a special bond to a man with autism has to retire.

Now, his family is hoping others can make it possible for him to ride again.

Sean Holley’s passion in life is horse riding. For the past eight years, he and his therapy horse, Dave, have come a long way. Sadly, Dave is heading out to pasture, and Holley’s mother, Leia Holley, is hoping they can raise enough money to not only help her son get a new companion but one to help others as well.

There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man. Words from Winston Churchill prove true at Due West Ranch.

“There’s got to be a place for them, and we want to create that place,” barn manager Danielle Baker said.

In the Kansas City, Kansas arena, boys and girls learn confidence, coordination and strength. So does Sean, a 29-year-old man with autism.

“We were told when he was two to put him in an institution. He would not talk, have eye contact, or be a functioning member of our family,” Holley said.

Despite what doctors told her, Holley believed her son could thrive, and he does in the saddle with his friend Dave.

“The thought of Sean not riding Dave breaks my heart because they already have that rhythm,” Holley said.

Thanks to Dave, he’s learned to ride independently and even drives the family lawnmower.

“It’s like he doesn’t have a disability when he’s in the arena,” Holley said.

But Dave is getting old, and at 28, is reaching his sunset.

“Dave has moved on to his retirement pasture where he’ll just live here and we’ll take care of him until the day he’s no longer with us,” Baker said.

Now, Sean sits to the side, watching others ride, waiting and hoping for a new companion. Only money is standing in the way.

“We’ve got to find that funding. We’ve got to get that money to help keep these riders in the saddle,” Holley said.

Due West needs help. With $10,000 they could buy Peaches, a horse suited for adults like Sean to ride.

“It would be incredible, absolutely incredible. I don’t want anybody to be turned away from Due West Ranch,” Baker said.

They hope the kindness of the riding community can get this cowboy back in the saddle.

“I could just stand here and cry. We can’t lose Due West. We can’t lose our family,” Holley said.

Due West offers therapy rides for all kinds of disabilities. They also have riding lessons for people at all levels. of skill. They have several smaller horses but need a large one for adults to be able to ride.

If you are able to help Due West, you can donate through this Facebook fundraiser.

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