Ponies once abandoned by their owners have a new lease on life; helping children and people facing serious life challenges.
Sometimes healing can come from an unlikely companion. For 13-year-old Rachel Papson, her horse Flaminca helps ease the crippling pain in her feet caused by Lyme disease.
"She would just protect my heart if I gave it to her. She is just amazing," said Papson. "It's just a pure blessing from God. I just don't know how to express it; just a new world and I don't know what I'd do without her."
Throwaway Ponies are animals nobody wanted, but they're getting a second chance as therapeutic riding horses for children with physical and emotional disabilities.
"The horses help them learn. If they can handle a 1,000-pound animal, they can handle what life throws at them," said founder Karen Bander.
The organization started nine years ago as a backyard operation with three horses. Now it has more than 70 horses being used for therapy riding and hundreds more that have been adopted out.
The group said with the economy, it's about 30 percent more expensive to feed horses, making the number of abandoned ponies skyrocket. Now, they are receiving help from business executives who've also been laid off.
They call themselves Executives in Action and they help the organization with strategic planning and fundraising.
"So many have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own; now they can give back to the community by helping us," said Bander.
It's a safe haven, helping horses, while healing minds and bodies and healing hearts.
"These horses are a blessing," said Wendy Papson, Rachel's mom. "I truly believe they are a blessing from God to help her, because she is in pain every day and when she is with horses it is a time when she is at peace."
Throwaway Ponies is always looking for volunteers. They can be contacted at 214-202-1390.