Strides Therapeutic Horsemanship Center names first Rider of the - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Strides Therapeutic Horsemanship Center names first Rider of the Month

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MESA, WA - Since 2006, Strides Therapeutic Horsemanship Center in Mesa has been unlocking human potential through the power of horses. It all started with Braxton Schwendiman, who's being recognized as rider of the month. 

Braxton was two and a half years old when he was diagnosed with autism. 

"When he first started, he would not even touch a horse," said Shandiin Schwendiman, Braxton's mom. 

Shandiin learned the Strides program was starting up when Braxton turned four and they quickly jumped on the opportunity. 

"From the beginning, Braxton got to be in control of the speed of the horse," said Jill McCary, Executive Director at Strides. Control that has translated to other aspects of his life. 

"We have kids that don't speak, that speak their first words from the back of a horse," said McCary. 

Almost a decade later, Braxton has gone from timid and non-verbal to a confident rider. He's now helping teach lessons at Strides and has gotten the whole family involved. 

McCary said this is the first year they have a rider of the month. They chose Braxton because he has been riding the longest. 

Strides has grown since 2006. It now serves 76 riders and they hope to expand their services to veterans soon. 

Braxton is being featured on the Strides website