What Does Occupational Therapy with Horses Look Like?
Occupational therapy is always rooted in goals to improve overall engagement in life. Horses prove to be a unique tool that with proper application, can be used to engage sensory, neuromotor, emotional, and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes. In other words, each patient will need the horse to be utilized in different ways to address their individual goals. This may look like riding the horse while doing a familiar activity, to brushing the horse and engaging in horse care activities. The application of the horse in therapy is as unique as the patients we serve.
Meet The Therapists
Kelsey Herman, OTD, OTR/L
Dr. Kelsey Herman is the owner of Healing Steps, and the President of the 501(c)3 non-profit entity, Healing Opportunities Foundation, and is excited to show Southwest Washington the value of pairing equine and occupational therapy! Dr. Herman received her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Pacific University in 2019 with experience in both pediatric and adult rehabilitation, with the majority of her professional experience in outpatient pediatrics with an emphasis in Sensory
Processing Disorder, Autism, ADHD, and behavioral concerns. Kelsey is a lifelong equestrian who enjoys riding, training, and rehabilitating rescue horses as well as educating people about horses. Dr. Herman is thrilled for the opportunity to blend her expertise in equine and occupational therapy to improve the lives of her patients.
Riley Smetzler, OTD, OTR/L
Dr. Riley Smetzler received her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Baylor University in 2022. Born and raised in Ridgefield, Washington, Dr. Smetzler has grown up around horses, and is so excited to combine her knowledge of equine and occupational therapy. Dr. Smetzler has experience in both pediatric and adult rehabilitation, with a specialized interest in Sensory Processing, Autism, neuro-rehabilitation, and musculoskeletal impairments. Riley places an emphasis
on holistic, client-centered care for each of her patients, and is eager to educate and provide therapy services to those in her community that can benefit from a non-traditional approach to occupational therapy!