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Healing With Horses

In his wheelchair, it can be hard to reach Christopher Lyons, a seven-year-old with cerebral palsy, CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

"You see him in the chair. He's not really talking to you. He's not saying anything right now," said Teressa Lyons, Christopher's mother.

But a horse named "Convict" closes the distance.

"That horse just wakes something up in him," Lyons said.

In the Colorado Rockies, the Pegasus Program, which uses horses to help and heal the disabled, is breathing new life into some old cowboy wisdom: There's nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.

"We get a lot more in an hour from this than I can in a week of physical therapy," Lyons said.

A horse's stride matches a human's in length and pace, allowing Christopher to absorb from Convict what his cerebral palsy conspires to keep from him.

"When we put 'em on the horse and they feel all that normal movement and their brain gets to feel, 'Oh this is what normal feels like,' then we have a chance of teaching the muscles how to work correctly," said Robin Bowman of the Pegasus Program.

For an animal that provides such freedom for kids like Christopher, "Convict" might seem like a rather curious name. That is until you see just where this horse comes from.

A hundred miles south, but a world away, is Colorado's Canyon City Prison, where wild horses meet untamed men.

"This doesn't really look like prison, does it? No. And while I'm out here, it doesn't feel like it either," said inmate Colby Blades.

Inmate-trainers like Blades take horses gathered from overpopulated wild herds, ease their fear and build their trust.

"Pretty wild, kind of reminds me of how I was," said Blades.

In these prison pastures, inmates see horses penned up after years of running free, known only by numbers, and ride them into new lives and new rules.

"I think they teach each other. These horses do teach guys about life," said Brian Hardin, the director of the prison program.

They call it "gentling," soothing the wild out of the mustang. Once broken, these horses are calm and sure-footed, perfect for Pegasus kids.

The inmates had never seen the power of their work until we showed them Christopher and Convict. For a few moments, it seemed the "gentlers" had been "gentled" themselves.

"You can't help but to be happy when a little kid like that is happy. It's kind of neat to know you can reach out and touch someone, even from in here," said Randy Devaney, another inmate.

Inside a prison, a horse has learned to trust a man. Outside, a boy has learned to trust a horse.

"I figure if we can do this in four weeks, in eight weeks what is he going to be doing?" said Lyons.

And all have learned that when trust conquers fear, the possibilities can seem endless.

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