Local therapy center using farm animals and a ranch to help people

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RICE LAKE, Wis. — A nonprofit organization offers therapy outdoors and in stables. Nature’s Edge Therapy offers occupational therapy and speech therapy in a unique way.

The operation has been around for 20 years and uses hippotherapy or animal-assisted therapy.

It’s the same as in a hospital, clinic, or school, but these sessions take place on a 65-acre ranch.

“There are so many great things we can do that are unique here that you might not be able to get in a clinic, because you’re only in one space, so let’s try to use as many tools as possible to sort out to bring out the best in our patients and advance their goals,” said Courtney Losey, Speech-Language Pathologist, Nature’s Edge Therapy Center.

Between horses, pigs, donkeys and more, kids and adults can use the outdoors and animals to aid recovery with speech therapy as well as those facing challenges such as autism, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.

Courtney Losey, a speech therapist, has also seen people become more open to animals.

“Animals in general can be such a motivator, a reward, a calming effect, so sometimes in my sessions I’ll use the horse just for that aspect, maybe it’s a reward session, where they have chose which animal they wanted to work with that day,” Losey said.

Seeing how some children relate to animals can even help unlock more progress.

“I had a patient whose first word was to ride a horse, and that was so exciting for me and it’s just amazing to see that in the family, how much success and progress comes from that when you can see it come to life,” Losy says.

Nature’s Edge Therapy Center is about to enter the busy summer season with many occupational therapy programs available for all ages and registration information can be found on their website.

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