weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Family ranch opens equine therapy program

Though the practice has been around for decades, not a lot of people have heard of it.

Those who have participated swear by its results.

Equine-Therapy (ET) is not exactly how it sounds. Some people actually believe it is therapy for the animals rather than for the riders.

Quite simply, the exercise involves using horses to help individuals suffering from physical, emotional or psychological disorders.

Impulse control and learning boundaries are additional benefits according to experts in the field.

The decades old discipline arrived in this country with the establishment of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD).

It goes by a number of names: Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP), Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Horseback Riding among others.

Locally, one family has developed a facility that provides horse-assisted therapy.

Julie and Sheila Schmidt are the mother and daughter team who founded Freedom Reins Ranch Inc.

Like many mental health experts, both believe equine therapy instills individuals with increased trust and confidence as well as improve self-awareness and character.

The organization is holding a grand opening on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to introduce the community to their facility on the south end of town.

A physical therapy demonstration along with a group lesson are planned.

The event will wind down with a miniature horse demonstration at 3 p.m., along with free hot dogs and chips.

Julie Schmidt said the creation of Freedom Reins Ranch has been a family dream for many years.

She said financial gain was not a motivating factor in the decision. Helping people was.

“It has been a vision of ours for a long, long, time. Some things just started happening and we decided this past year that we were going to pursue it. It is a nonprofit organization so it’s not for our benefit,” she said.

The family is not undertaking the endeavor alone.

Schmidt said her organization has joined forces with Southern Nevada’s Affiliated Physical Therapy and Mobile Mental Health facility and is looking to expand services within the community.

“We started contracting with Affiliated Physical Therapy to do physical therapy on horseback. We are contracting with Mobile Mental Health to do behavioral lessons with therapists. Both of these are going to be supervised by the therapists themselves but our dream is to reach more of the community. We actually want to do some after school programs for kids that have working parents.”

Although facilitating mental and physical therapy is a major goal for the organization, Schmidt said clients get to learn additional skills that can create opportunities later on in life.

“My daughters have learned the value of responsibility with horses and what horses can do and how they can affect and change your life. Our dreams are pretty big, but we are starting out humbly and small. We have therapy horses and we are training them to walk up to the mounting block because some people may not be able to physically mount up on a horse so we can put them directly on the horse. We’re preparing the horses for the job they will be doing,” she said.

Schmidt noted that Freedom Reins Ranch is not a riding stable.

“It’s teaching the kids and adults to have a relationship with the horse. It’s not pony rides. It’s teaching them how to communicate with the horse. We do group lessons with adults and even though we have contracted with the two agencies, it’s not exclusive. Anybody can come but they have to be able to handle leading the horse. We are doing a beginners class, which are for those under 8 years old, 8-to-12 and then 13-to-18,” she said.

Schmidt said the physical therapy aspect of the program can also benefit the largest population in the Pahrump Valley, senior citizens.

“One person approached us because her mother had a stroke some time ago. She’s doing really well but she has some balancing issues. Being on horseback, it helps strengthen your core. Physical therapists know more about that than I do but we will take anybody,” she said.

Schmidt’s daughter Sheila said she knows firsthand the therapeutic value of working with the animals.

“Growing up with horses, I know the value of a relationship with a horse, can replace no other. That horse will never ever let them down. They will always be here and always have something for them to do. I want our clients to build that relationship with the horse and gain the confidence to be able to do something that to them, is out of the ordinary and have a place that is safe for them to do those things. That is some of the social and behavioral things that I’m looking for,” she said.

Located at 2281 E. Traci St., Freedom Reins Ranch is a multi-acre facility with six therapy horses, three of which are miniatures.

Part of the program’s curriculum encompasses proper care of horses, basic riding skills, building trust as well as proper tack maintenance taught by certified instructors.

For additional information call 513-3790 or 513-3791.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Tonopah schools temporarily go online

Tonopah Schools have gone online until Sept. 24 out of caution after multiple students and staff call-in for “illness-related symptoms,” according to an email sent to parents on Wednesday.

Conservationists say thousands of rare wildflowers found intentionally destroyed

Conservationists discovered over the weekend that someone had dug up and destroyed more than 17,000 Tiehm’s buckwheat plants, a rare Nevada wildflower the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this summer might warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Pair sought in theft of rare coins

Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives are searching for two robbery suspects who allegedly targeted an elderly victim. An alleged monthslong scheme resulted in more than an estimated $200,000 in losses for the Pahrump senior citizen.

Bar tops open, drink-only service resumes in Pahrump

The state of Nevada’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force has finally given the OK for all liquor establishments in Pahrump, including bars, taverns and wineries, to reopen and resume bar-top and drink-only service, as well as bar-top gaming.

New group launches recall effort

Following Fight For Nevada’s failed attempt at a recall effort aimed at removing Gov. Steve Sisolak from office, a new political action committee has formed with the same intentions in mind.

DMV extends deadline for renewals to Nov. 12

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday announced an additional extension for expired or soon-to-be expired driver’s licenses and ID cards and new, limited Saturday hours for new Nevada residents as it continues to find new ways to serve the public while operating under COVID-19 safety protocols.

Survey: Small business owners maintain optimism for future

Small business owners have faced unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in the midst of great uncertainty with the upcoming presidential election. The Q3 Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index indicates, however, there is a continued spirit of forward-facing optimism among small business owners despite the persistent trials.

Event aims at boosting rural entrepreneurship in state

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development is partnering with StartUpNV, Entrepreneur’s Assembly, Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, business leaders and other government entities, in a new statewide initiative to foster entrepreneurship in Nevada’s smaller cities and towns.

Unemployment claims fall to lowest level since March

Finalized data from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation shows initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 7,951 for the week ending Sept. 5, down 81 claims, or 1.0%, compared to last week’s total of 8,032 claims.