Healing with Unconditional LoveCanine Therapy | K2 Equestrian Center

Studies have shown that spending time with a friendly animal, even for 10 to15 minutes, can increase the amount of endorphins that are released into the body, and decreases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Children who interact with animals learn the value of responsibility, and for a child with disabilities, this responsibility is invaluable.

Animals provide an opportunity to connect and bond, which is an important part of a child’s normal development. Some children with disabilities are angry, hurt, defiant, and have little self-esteem. Other children are developmentally delayed due to mental and/or physical disabilities. No matter what the disability, working with animals, especially horses, makes a significant improvement in their development.

Animal-assisted therapy provides an experience with an animal that is non-judgmental, provides unconditional love and affection, and provides opportunities for physical and emotional growth. This type of therapy also increases confidence and promotes self-esteem, while motivating children to communicate.

Our Programs

K2 Equestrian Center offers equine assisted therapy in several formats, from working with horses on the ground (non-riding) to therapeutic riding. Our equine therapy programs are customized for each individual’s needs, and each session is unique. We serve a wide range of clients with disabilities and partner with many social service organizations throughout north Idaho and eastern Washington.  Our team members are certified with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), and the Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC).

If you know a child or an adult who would benefit from our programs, please contact us.  We’d love to visit with you about our services and the K2 Equestrian Center.

Equine Assisted Growth and Learning

K2 Equestrian CenterThe Equine Assisted Growth and Learning therapy program helps children with various diagnosed disabilities to experience emotional growth and develop better life-skills to help them grow and become constructive and productive adults.  Through quality, one-on-one mentoring, we are able to empower the child by increasing positive behaviors and reducing negative behaviors. The child’s innate abilities are strengthened, individual communication styles are enhanced, and they learn to take care of things (the animals) that are larger than themselves. The effect on the child is an increase in self-esteem, better relationships with their families, friends, and community, as well as a stronger ability to face life’s challenges.

Equine Assisted Therapy:

  • Empowers and builds confidence in the child.
  • Provides an excellent insight to the child’s perspective of others, as he/she interacts with the horse.
  • Gives children with behavioral and emotional problems a safe environment in which to work on specific issues of anger, fear, self-doubt, poor communication and anxiety.

Therapeutic Riding

Slider4Therapeutic riding, also known as “hippo-therapy,” is any form of therapy that utilizes a horse as a life therapeutic tool. The K2 Equestrian Center provides a therapeutic equine riding program to physically and emotionally disabled children and adults through PATH International. The K2 team works along with area occupational and physical therapists and speech and language pathologists.

The program should not be confused with “horseback riding,” as participants do not steer or direct the horse, but are led  by a PATH certified instructor, as the therapist and an assistant work with, and aide the rider, from each side of the horse.

IMG_8050Therapeutic riding benefits almost any disability, including: cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, head injuries, hearing impairment, visual impairment, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, speech & learning disabilities, and sensory integration dysfunction.

The benefits of this therapy are both mental and physical and include normalization of muscle tone, increased balance and coordination, developments of speech and language, and improvements in body awareness and self-esteem.  As the horse moves through different gaits, the rider experiences a wide range of sensory input. The rhythmic motion and warmth of the horse stimulates and exercises the rider’s muscles, increasing mobility of the pelvis, hip, and spine. At a walk, the rider benefits from the calming effort of the rhythmic, three-dimensional movement. The rider experiences weight shift and trunk mobility as if he were walking on his own. As the horse moves to a trot, the rider’s alertness is increased, his posture aligned, and he becomes more aware of his own body.


Bal-A-Vis-X (BAVX) is a series of Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises of varied complexity, which are deeply rooted in rhythm. 

The program consists of 200+ exercises that range in difficulty from one hand passing/receiving a single sandbag to both hands bouncing/catching four racquetballs in a specified sequence. Partner exercises may call for six balls to be simultaneously in motion. Others combine bags or balls with feet patterns.

Exercises address visual tracking deficiencies and auditory imprecision, impulsivity, balance, and anxiety issues. By virtue of teachable techniques (not athleticism), Bal-A-Vis-X enables body systems to experience the flow of a pendulum, thereby affording brain systems calm and sustained focus. Individual exercises promote self-challenge. Partner and group exercises demand cooperation and foster peer teaching.

Bal-A-Vis-X is not a game or sport. It is a carefully modulated system that can become increasingly complex OR increasingly simplified/modified for those with severe special needs. Requiring thousands of midline crossings in three dimensions, exercises are steadily rhythmic with a pronounce auditory foundation. Each is executed at a pace that naturally results from proper physical techniques. No outside rhythmic source, such as metronome or music is necessary or allowed.

All movements require full-body coordination and focused attention.  The goal of the program is to enable the mind-body system to experience the natural symmetrical flow of a pendulum, which brings about a state of systemic integration, which enables one to see, hear, attend, process, produce – in essence, to function at one’s best.

Art Therapy

How does art therapy help?

  • Supporting ability to cope with medical challenges and hospitalization
  • Providing an outlet for, and supporting emotional self-expression
  • Reducing anxiety, pain, and stress
  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Fostering positive interaction and communication between patients and their families
  • Building confidence, self-esteem, and resiliency

A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy practice requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.

Today, art therapy is widely practiced in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, private practice, and other clinical and community settings. During individual and/or group sessions art therapists elicit their clients’ inherent capacity for art making to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Research supports the use of art therapy within a professional relationship for the therapeutic benefits gained through artistic self expression and reflection for individuals who experience illness, trauma, and mental health problems and those seeking personal growth.

Who benefits from art therapy?

Art therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, forensic, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations in individual, couples, family, and group therapy formats.

It is an effective treatment for people experiencing developmental, medical, educational, and social or psychological impairment. Individuals who benefit from art therapy include those who have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse, and natural disaster; persons with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other health disability; and persons with autism, dementia, depression, and other disorders.

It helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making.

Trauma and Grief Therapy

Working through trauma can be a scary, painful, and potentially re-traumatizing process, especially for children. Children's Grief Therapy | K2 Equestrian CenterHowever, when a child (or adult) works through their trauma with equine assisted therapy, the process can become empowering and motivating.  The K2 Equestrian Center is able to provide a unique form of therapy for individuals of trauma and loss. Each session is individualized to benefit the person as they regain personal power and self-confidence. The sessions allow the person to build strength within themselves, to move on in life as a productive and happy individual.

Katherine is certified by the Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children and is trained in Structured Sensory Intervention. With this training she understands how a grieving or traumatized person experiences life, and how they view themselves, other people, and the world around them.

K2 Equestrian Center Chiildrens Grief TherapyGrounding is one skill that can help an individual with recovery.  Grounding consists of a set of skills which help a person to manage overwhelming trauma-related emotions, and to stay present in their body.  Equine therapy is beneficial for these individuals because it is difficult not to be present when doing exercises with, or on, a horse.  The power, yet gentleness of the animal, provides an avenue for the individual to build self-confidence and inner strength.


Read more about Child Therapy Techniques with this downloadable PDF.