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Playing ball and riding horses is fun; Therapy is hidden in activities

Therapy is hidden in activities by Annette Beard | June 16, 2021 at 10:25 a.m.

Intertwining two loves, Larissa Nall found a way to help children with a new venture. A love of horses and a love for children drew Larissa Nall to co-found Unbridled Pediatric Therapies with Terrica Weatherford.

Nall, director of Unbridled, has a bachelor of science in exercise physiology, earned her physical therapy assistant degree and attended the American Hippotherapy Association training.

Unbridled stables are located on nine acres on Andy Buck Road, just north of Pea Ridge.

Four horses -- Spirit, Dizanie, Bran and Theo -- await the children's arrivals. Spirit, 13, is a Morgan. Dizanie, 21, is a Missouri fox trotter. Bran, 7, is an adopted rescue horse. Theo, 14, is a foundation quarter horse.

Nall said Dizanie, as a gaited horse, provides a smooth ride that calms apprehensive riders.

In addition to the barn, there are several rooms providing space for various therapies. There's a room for table top work -- fine motor skills, visual and auditory processing -- where Chandler Long-Anglin and Macy Trevillion were working with clients.

Long-Anglin is an occupational therapist. Trevillion is a speech therapist.

Gabbie Burghart is lead handler; Megan Morton is a handler.

Marketing manager is Sara Tough.

Dizanie, 21, and Nall have a long history. Dizanie was Nall's "family horse" for a time before becoming a part of Unbridled.

"I got her initially when she was 8," Nall said. "I just always loved horses and always loved helping children. It's always been a dream of mine to put those two together."

"I know how much it helped me as a kid, riding and being around horses, and so I just wanted to share that experience with anyone I could," Nall said.

"I was drawn to physical therapy. I really love working with children and helping them reach the highest potential they can. I love seeing them on a horse," Nall said.

One client, Rosemary, smiled broadly as she rode around the paddock.

Nall explained that the horses can be used for physical therapy and occupational therapy.

"From a PT standpoint, riding helps with strength, motor planning and balance," Nall said. "For OT, it helps with sensory regulation, body regulation -- the horse is magical for that."

Parents, physicians or therapists can refer the children to the clinic.

"It's important to note that it's coupled with clinical therapy, too," she said. "I see a lot of kids get a lot more motivated out here because it's a whole different environment being outdoors and around horses."

"Finding different ways to do things. Rather than doing sit ups they get to ride a horse -- what's more fun? Because it's both working core. We'll do things like climbing fences and walking on logs for balance. It's a whole different set up.

"To the kids, it doesn't really seem like work. It's fun. We implement whatever each individual child's goals are.

"They'll spend a portion of the time riding. If they need the body regulation, we'll try to set that up first because they get better results with their goal work. The rest of the time, we spend unmounted addressing the goals and stuff," Nall said. "We just let the child go at her own pace."

Nall said she had a child recently who was fearful, who rode for the first time after seeing Nall for several months.

"We would use the horse to get him used to that. Paint on them, play games over her back, he could lead her around -- just building rapport between the child and the horse."

Long-Anglin said sensory input with horses is one measurement/input per step of their feet.

"So, with a horse, you get four beats of input per step of a foot and that's more than you can simulate on a swing, a trampoline, with any kind of piece of sensory input. So it's really an enriching, unique sensory experience. It helps a lot of our children with sensory processing disorder," she said.

"I love lessons," Rosemary Welch, 6, said, smiling while sitting on Spirit.

There are also activities in hay -- searching for hidden objects in hay, climbing on or over hay bales.

Unbridled is the first level one certified equine assisted therapy clinic in Arkansas, according to Sara Tough, marketing manager. The new facility includes two barns, multiple fields for riding, and plans for a fully accessible indoor arena.Unbridled Pediatric Therapies, Arkansas' first level one hippotherapy clinic certified by the American Hippotherapy Association, offers equine assisted physical, occupational and speech language therapeutic services for clients from the ages of 18 months to 21 years of age.

For information, visit Unbridled Pediatric Therapies website at or call (479) 250-9838 or follow Unbridled Pediatric Therapies on Facebook and Instagram.

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Unbridled Pediatric Therapies

10107 Andy Buck Road

Pea Ridge

(479) 250-9838

[email protected]

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