Therapy Through Horseplay

Summer camp is a place where kids can paint faces, make new friends, and ride horses. And, at one local camp, they combine all three, by painting the faces of friendly horses.

Twenty horses at Camp Heyday on Lake Tyler were painted from mane to hoof. Some even had themes, like Mini Me from Austin Powers.

"I paint a horse every year," says Windie Staton. "It's a mixture of shampoo and paint temper so it washes off pretty. It's like they're getting a bath."

All week long kids with mental and physical disabilities come to escape their handicaps. "It's like a therapy for the camper and for the horse. They're trained to be around special needs so they don't jerk and it relaxes them."

Staton has been coming here for eight years. She comes back for the horses, and to be with others who face challenges similar to hers.

"Everybody is the same. We may be different on the outside of how we learn, but you treat a person how you want to be treated. We're all the same. We're all humans."

Of course, the horses already knew that.

Camp Heyday is run by Tyler's Association for Retarded Citizens. This is the camp's 33rd year.