LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- At the Hearts and Hooves therapeutic riding center in Sherwood, the gate is closed and "Peanut" the horse is all saddled up.
"Watch your step going up the block," instructor Sarah Harmon warned, as 13-year old foster child Dakota got himself ready to ride.
Harmon lead the way, teaching Dakota how to listen and direct his horse. It's a magical lesson for a boy with no mom, no dad, and a mild disability.
"He has moderate hearing loss," said DHS family services worker Nancy Shaikh. "He wears hearing aids. He can hear without, but just not as well."
Dakota loves all animals, but especially horses.
"Hamsters, dogs, cats, horses, all kinds of animals," he said.
His love for animals is a testament to his pure and giant heart.
"Dakota is an amazing kid," Shaikh added. "He is very sensitive and extremely polite. He says yes ma'am, no ma'am, please and thank you. He's just a really, really polite child."
And, this polite child desperately wants a forever home.
"Yes, ma'am. I want a new family, so I can live with my brother," Dakota said.
His greatest hope is that a mom and dad will adopt not only him, but also his 10-year old brother John. John was unable to join Dakota for the riding lesson, but he was constantly part of the conversation.
"He's a real sweet boy once you get to know him, and he likes to have fun," Dakota said, referring to John.
"John is a little steamroller," said Shaikh. "He hits the floor running and goes nonstop."
Shaikh said heartbreak hit when the brothers were split apart into two foster homes, where they've been since 2009. Both desperately want to be adopted together and reunited. Until then, lessons like this provide much needed distraction until Dakota's dreams come true.
"I wanna be a foster parent one day," Dakota states. "I wanna grow up and help other kids."
"Permanence," added Shaikh. "He needs a family that he can grow up and test you, do all the things normal kids do and still have someone there who loves him."
Special thanks to everyone at Hearts and Hooves for the special horseback riding lesson. Dakota said he absolutely loved it.
If you'd like more information about Dakota and John or any of the children in state foster care up for adoption - click on the Arkansas Department of Human Services adoption website.
There are no costs associated with adopting a child in state care.