Horses help with some forms of therapy

LOXAHATCHEE, FL (CBS) - It may seem like a risky idea to pair a disabled person with a powerful animal like a horse, but horses are helping many make great strides toward recovery.

Former Olympian Courtney King Dye is determined to be a champion again after suffering from a sever accident last year.

The horse Dye was training stumbled and slammed her into the ground, leaving her in a coma for a month.

Little by little, Dye is conquering the brain injury that left her unable to remember, walk or speak.

"Trying hard makes me feel better," Dye said.

Dye is using all of her strength to get back on a horse for a type of therapeutic riding called hippotherapy. The exercises are gradually improving her brain function, muscles, and nervous system.

"When we gave her the ability to direct the horse's movement, that's when we started seeing some really major progress," said Dye's physical therapist, Stacey Brown.

The movement between the rider and the horse provides a benefit that just can't be achieved anywhere else, therapists say.

"I think it's the energy moving through the horse that moves through the person, and the rider is allowed to feel normal movement for maybe the first time," Brown said.

At Vinceramos Therapeutic Riding Center in Florida, specially trained horses help with all sorts of disabilities.

"There's definitely a science behind it, but to those of us who see it work every day it's a bit more like magic," said Ruth Menor with Vinceramos Therapeutic Riding Center.

Dye's goal is to compete again and is counting on the animals she loves to get her back in the ring.

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