Kids & Horses Adds Therapy Clinic
Kids & Horses, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides adaptive riding lessons, added therapy that utilizes equine movement (hippotherapy) as a treatment strategy to its offerings. The Premiere Accredited Center of PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) is in Northern Nevada, an area where children and adults with special needs are under-served. They work with individuals of all ages, facing a broad range of challenges such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Traumatic Brain injury, Sensory Processing Disorder, Stroke and learning disabilities. Kids and Horses has been serving the community with adaptive horseback riding lessons since 1999, teaching individuals with disabilities how to ride horses through safe, effective lessons by PATH-certified instructors.
Kids & Horses, Inc. now offers physical therapy and occupational therapy. Each licensed therapist is specially trained in using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy, making it unique to any therapy clinic in Northern Nevada. “Hippos” is Greek for horse and Hippotherapy translates to “therapy with the help of a horse.” Therapists direct the movement of the horse, the equipment used and the position of the patient achieve specific results. The goal is to help each person reach individualized functional goals such as climbing stairs, legibly writing a sentence or zipping a jacket. The therapists at Kids & Horses will be taking medical insurances such as Medicaid, Hometown Health and United Healthcare as they become vetted through each insurance company.
Joining the Kids & Horses team is Physical Therapist Erin Vaillancourt (PT,DPT, HPCS) and Occupational Therapist Amy Schelert (OTR/L). Vaillancourt, who is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, holds one of only 108 Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS) certifications in the world, and is the only person holding such certification in Nevada at this time. During her doctorate program, Vaillancourt trained at the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy (NCEFT) in California, and has a passion for helping people gain functional achievements through the use of hippotherapy. “During one therapy session, the patient experiences approximately 1,000 repetitions of typical gait movement from the horse,” said Vaillancourt. “No other therapy tool or exercise can simulate the human walk as accurately.” Vaillancourt said they can treat ages two to 100.
After working as a PATH-certified instructor teaching adaptive riding lessons, Schelert earned her Master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California. As an occupational therapist, she helps people develop increased independence in their activities of daily living such as fastening a button, having the coordination to perform a jumping jack in P.E. or the focusing during class. She performed a 13-week internship at the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy and completed her Level I hippotherapy coursework from the American Hippotherapy Association. Schelert is also certified in Sensory Integration and trained in Handwriting without Tears. She has experience working in private clinics, schools, hospitals and, of course, stables. “Anything I can accomplish with a patient in a traditional therapy setting and more can be achieved on the back of a horse,” states Schelert. “We also have a therapy room on the property where we can utilize traditional therapy techniques indoors before/after working on horseback as well on inclement weather days.”
“Our Vision for Kids & Horses is to be a leader in effective therapy for Northern Nevada’s children and adults with disabilities at a top-quality facility,” adds Doug Brimm, Kids & Horses CEO. “By adding therapy, we are taking a major step forward in expanding our service to the community.”
Kids & Horses is a non-profit organization. All services are provided at no or only partial cost to the participants. People wishing to support adaptive riding for local individuals with special needs can donate through the website , to either the general operations, scholarships or capital campaign fund.
The Kids & Horses facility is located south of Carson City on Esaw Street and Stephanie Way in Minden, NV. Kids & Horses, Inc. is a 501 (c3) company. They purchased the ranch in 2013. The ranch property houses the program horses as well as boarding for privately-owned horses.
For information or to become a participant, contact Kids & Horses at or (775) 267-1775. Visit us on Facebook or at www.kidsandhorses.org. Mail may be sent to 2869 Esaw Street, Minden, NV 89423.