The young riders in the Partners for Progress equestrian therapy program were accompanied by special guests Monday - jockeys from Arlington Park.
Wearing their racing silks, the jockeys were all smiles when they met the kids and then escorted them around the indoor ring at the Pine Grove Equestrian Center near Mundelein.
From a nearby viewing area, proud parents and other relatives snapped photographs of the activity.
"It's exciting," said Lake Zurich resident Jeff Sims, whose children Mary and Charlie participated in the special event. "(Charlie) looked at me this afternoon and said, 'I'm a jockey, too! I ride horses, too!'"
Partners for Progress, which moved from Gurnee to Mundelein earlier this year, specializes in therapeutic riding for children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other disabilities. It has some adult clients, too.
Arlington Park participated in Monday's event as part of a community service campaign for the Arlington Million race, which is Saturday at the Arlington Heights track, said Alyssa Ali, a racing reporter and producer for Arlington Park.
"All these jockeys love kids," Ali said. "The interaction is amazing."
Linda Liss, Partners for Progress' director of development, appreciates Arlington's support.
"It's a very big deal for our kids to feel as much a part of the world around them, the able-bodied world," Liss said. "(This) validates their existence, and it validates their horse skills."