The beginnings of Spirit Reins are best told through the story of our founder, Rhonda Smith.
On a sunny day in October 1999, Rhonda's car was the 11th car in a series of 12 that were smashed by an out-of-control 18-wheel tractor trailer. One man lost his life in the accident. Rhonda believes the only reason she survived is by the grace of God. She felt the hand of God over her head and body as the 18-wheeler literally rolled over her, crushing every part of the car except her seat. As she kept asking the “Why me?” question in her head, God kept answering it by opening the doors that would eventually lead to the founding of Spirit Reins.
Spirit Reins was founded in February of 2003. Our journey began by becoming a member of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and becoming certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). Spirit Reins was the first of its kind in Central Texas to offer equine assisted psychotherapy to at-risk youth and their families. Since 2010, we have practiced the Natural Lifemanship model of therapy.
Since our inception, we have had the opportunity to see our mission become a reality as we have worked with groups of children with emotional or behavioral challenges from Austin ISD, Round Rock ISD, Georgetown ISD, Liberty Hill ISD and Leander ISD. We have also partnered with Communities in Schools (CIS) to help keep at-risk youth in school and engaged in the learning process. Spirit Reins is also collaborating with child placement agencies to provide unique therapy services to children in the foster care system and children who have been adopted from foster care in Central Texas. Additionally, Spirit Reins has provided a safe and peaceful retreat facility for children served by the Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, as well as the Boys and Girls Club.
Spirit Reins currently has collaborations with:
- A World for Children
- The Center for Child Protection
- Communities in Schools
- The Children's Partnership
- Texas Baptist Children's Home
- The Travis County Juvenile Probation Department
- The CPS Reintegration Department
- Travis County Integral Care
Spirit Reins has also been the focus of several news stories in Austin and the surrounding areas. Articles have been written in many newspapers, including The Williamson County Sun, Community Impact, The Liberty Hill Bullet, The Liberty Hill Independent and Hill Country News. Reporters from KEYE channel 42, KXAN channel 36, FOX channel 7, and News 8 Austin have all done stories on the impact this non-traditional therapy program is having on the children of Central Texas.