By Michael Jones
For the Tribune-Review
Anxious stares quickly gave way to wide smiles Tuesday morning as 13 students from Bethel Park High School's special education program visited a Washington County horse farm for the ride of a lifetime.
The activity gave the students a hands-on experience with horses after they recently finished reading "Black Beauty" for class.
Sherry Parise, an autistic support teacher, could barely contain her enthusiasm watching 16-year-old Hannah Dibble prepare for the first ride of the day at the Horse 'N Soul farm.
"This is so exciting," Parise said as Hannah climbed atop a brown equine named Nash.
Parise said Hannah is usually quiet in class, so she was encouraged as Hannah responded to an instructor's direction to tell the horse to "walk on." With that command, Nash began moving forward with an instructor guiding the horse around the ring.
Parise was just as excited a few moments later when Jimmy Tosic, 19, mounted the next horse and gave the same instructions. Flashing a wide smile, Jimmy waved to her and other students while riding Rocky in the pen.
"Just to see him so relaxed on that horse," Parise said. "He's not going to want to get off.
"I love animals and kids, so this is the perfect place for me."
(Photo by Keith Hodan/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
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