AUSTIN -- Rodeo Austin wrapped up Sunday and ended on a high note.
Presley Ross and her horse, Patches, put on a show for judges and her beaming family on the last day of Rodeo Austin. Presley has Down syndrome, and Patches is her therapy horse.
"I'm more nervous than her. She's ready to go and is so excited and mom's up here in tears," said Teana Ross, Presley's mother.
A little girl leads a big horse, in an even bigger rodeo arena for her very first show. The eight-year-old has been preparing for her big show day since last July at a therapeutic riding center in Leander.
"There's no words, there's just no words to explain that smile," said Presley's grandmother, Glenda Ross.
Presley's mother says therapy has helped Presley more than they could have imagined.
"We did it really to improve her core strength, Presley has Down syndrome, but really it has improved her speech beyond her belief," said Teana Ross.
The Gold Stirrup Horse Show for individuals with special needs falls into the mission of Rodeo Austin.
It takes more than 1,500 volunteers to make this rodeo a reality every year and the whole goal is youth education.
"It takes everyone to make it work. At the end of the day it’s all for the same reason, helping all the kids," said Shaun Tuggle, Austin Rodeo president.
With horse therapy, Presley's riding with confidence, and competing in front of a crowd.
"Really, it just shows how she’s like everyone else and not different," said Presley's mother.
Presley's grandmother is still beaming.
"And you know she was the cutest thing out there. A little girl, with a big horse, and a proud family," said Glenda Ross.
When asked how she felt, Presley responded, "Happy" with the biggest smile on her face.