FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — Sporting an ear-to-ear grin and a neon green Shrek helmet — complete with ogre ears — 9-year-old Michael Marple is a standout riding his horse around the small dirt arena at the Licking County Equestrian Center.

A three-year veteran at the Friends of Citizens with Disabilities Pony Express Horseback Riding program, Michael, who has autism, finds solace in the hour he spends each week with the horses there.

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