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Pony Power farm helps kids with special needs find joy, smiles, healing

On a small, well-kept farm tucked away in northern New Jersey, horses are saddled up and ready to serve as four-legged therapists to kids with special needs, from cerebral palsy to autism.

The horses are part of a program called Pony Power, founded by Dana Spett 14 years ago.

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"On a daily basis, I'm inspired and in awe of the healing quality of a horse," Dana told TODAY's Willie Geist.

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She’s a lifelong rider with a master's degree in social work. She first discovered what a horse can do for a child when her own daughter, Sydney, was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder.

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"When you're sitting on the back of the horse and the horse starts moving, the moving of the horse is exactly the same as human gait," Dana said. "It's a sensory input that a machine can't do."

Sydney improved, and Dana decided what was good for her daughter might be good for others. 

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Dana and her husband started off with one horse that was donated and helped a few kids. The program grew, and now they own a farm that services 150 clients a week.

"I needed to see it to believe," said Karina, whose young daughter Anabelle spends time at Pony Power. "When I first saw her riding, I could see a difference!"

WATCH the segment: Nonprofit uses horses for a range of therapies

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