Health & Wellness

Former Show Horse Starts Second Career in Equine Assisted Therapy at USU

By Ammon Teare |

Celine, shown here with USU student Sarah Anderson at the USU Equine Center, recently began her second career as she joined horses in the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies program.

The Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) program at Utah State University recently welcomed “Celine,” a retired show horse donated to the program by members of the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) Foundation. With professional supervision, Celine is being trained by students learning about equine therapy to assist military veterans and people with disabilities. 
Although he had no prior connection to USU, NSBA Foundation board member Michael Laplace donated his daughter’s show horse to USU’s program because of its status as a regional center for equine-assisted therapy. The NSBA Foundation regularly collaborates with Heroes on Horses—a program aimed at helping combat veterans manage their trauma—and Equestrians with Disabilities, a form of equestrian competition open to people with physical or cognitive disabilities.
“My daughter Hannah rode and showed Celine,” Laplace said. “At the NSBA World Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I watched Heroes on Horses and Equestrians with Disabilities classes and saw what a wonderful experience their ability to ride and show horses is for them. Every program that provides horses for veterans and people with disabilities to ride gives so much to people, and the programs provide a meaningful life for our horses that are ready to retire from the competitive show ring.” 
The equine program at USU is part of the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences. Community outreach programs include “Pathway to Horsemanship” and “Ride Utah!” for veterans, active-duty members of the military and their families; “RideAbility” for individuals with special needs; equine-assisted learning; and general equine-assisted therapy in collaboration with occupational, physical, and speech therapists. 
Currently, the NSBA Foundation is collaborating with the USU equine program on projects tied to an adaptive sports grant funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The grant provides opportunities for veterans to improve their quality of life through adaptive sports and therapeutic programs. 
“We have made a concerted effort to identify therapeutic riding centers across the country that offer specific riding opportunities for veterans,” said Lynn Campbell, development director for the NSBA Foundation. “Engagement with the USU/VA program has also increased awareness of our offerings on a national platform.” 
The NSBA was founded in 1983 to promote and expand the show horse community through equine programs and events. The NSBA Foundation is the charitable arm of NSBA and actively seeks funding for educational and community outreach programs. 
To learn more about USU’s equine programs, visit For more about the NSBA Foundation and its community outreach, visit

Celine with her original owners at the 2008 at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship show where the horse placed in the top ten.


Ammon Teare
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences


Judy Smith
Assistant Professor of Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies
Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences


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