Quarter Moon Acres Equine Assisted Therapy Center
Polk County Wisconsin’s first-ever Equine Assisted Therapy Center didn’t just come together by chance. Two of the three founders had been contemplating the idea for many years. For one, it was a childhood dream, and for another, her own experience using horses to cope with disorders led them to help others turn disabilities into abilities.
“Horses helped me through the years,” said Quarter Moon Acres Equine Therapy Center co-founder Patti Andersen. “I have ADD myself. I have massive depression, and the horses themselves have helped me through that.”
Fellow co-founder Kristi Hart and a childhood friend had worked out plans for a future equine therapy center as pre-teens. That friend passed away far too early, but Kristi never forgot their plan to help others through horses.
In 2014, Patti, who had served as a second mother for Kristi through her teenage years, approached Kristi about opening an equine therapy center on Patti’s farm in rural Amery, Wisconsin. Kristi jumped on the opportunity, moved back to the area, and the duo quickly asked Karole Lee, a boarder at Patti’s farm, to join in the venture.
With all three still working full time jobs, they began offering therapy sessions one day per week in the Spring of 2015 with a crew made entirely of volunteers.
“Our clients range from 6 to 86 and everywhere in between,” Patti said. “Some clients with dementia are the 86 group. And the young ones – many times it’s not an anxiety disorder that they have, it could be just social skills – even at that age – or no core strength, which equine therapy helps with that too.”
The Need for Quality Stall Mats
With the average age of Quarter Moon Acres’ therapy horses being about 17, maintaining their comfort is essential to keeping them ready to serve.
“They’re in stall for quite a bit of the day,” Patti said. “They need some cushion on their feet and under their legs. Without stall mats, we would not be able to do what we do because – No legs on a horse, no feet. No horse, no therapy.”
Kristi pointed out that not all horse stall mats work the same, noting that some of the mats they’ve used have had a tendency to curl, exposing seams, creating a tripping hazard for the horses and making the mucking process more labor intensive than necessary.
“When God created horses, he did not make them the most graceful animals, so if there’s something to get caught on, they will get caught on it,” Patti said.
“We have to have sound horses,” Karole added. “If they aren’t sound, we can’t have them out in the program at all…. They’re not going to be sound if they trip over uneven mats.”
“These horses are our life,” Patti said. “With the mats from Greatmats, they are standing straight and tall.”
With Greatmats stall mats, Kristi says they are able to keep their therapy horses comfortable and they’re stalls dry and clean much easier, saving the volunteer QMA staff a lot of time, effort and frustration.
Each rider requires at least three volunteers to help them through each therapy session, so its important for the staff to be able to spend as much of its time as possible focusing on the riders.
The three founders thoroughly enjoy watching the progress their clients have made over the past three years as well as the reaction on the faces of the clients and their parents as they discover new things about the horses and confidence within themselves.
“Seeing the clients and parents is awesome, but I also think that watching the volunteers that come out here and support us is awesome,” Karole said. “We can’t do this program without them.”
“We’ve seen what horses can do for us, or the people that are close to us, not only physically, but emotionally as well, and we’re lucky enough to have this right at our fingertips,” Kristi said. “So to be able to take what we have and can use every day, and share it with people who don’t … is amazing!”