Quiet Waters Ranch

Amanda Luther, co-founder and director of Quiet Waters Ranch, follows a simple equation toward health and wellness: Fresh air, peaceful surroundings, and lots of animals.

“In my opinion, animals and fresh air can solve the problems in our soul in ways that traditional therapies cannot,” she opines. “There’s just something about getting back to nature that no other method can duplicate.”

With that philosophy at its heart, the Minnesota-based ranch incorporates animal-centric, outdoor activities into its many day camp programs. According to Amanda, it’s often the simplest things that prove the most beneficial, ranging from feeling a horse breathe to collecting eggs to watching goats at play.

“Many of the people we work with are not, at least initially, comfortable jumping on the back of 1,200-pound horse,” Amanda admits, explaining that instead of riding, many of their programs focus on relaxation, sensory activities and inspiring an appreciation for animals. However, when and if clients are comfortable, the non-profit also offers mounted therapy and Special Olympics Equestrian programs.

Quiet Waters’ mission is backed by numerous studies demonstrating the benefits of animal therapy, which Amanda says has been shown to help build confidence, reduce stress, improve mental well-being, boost social skills, encourage responsibility and create a sense of purpose. “Animal therapy lowers your blood pressure, soothes your soul and clears your mind,” she contends. “To me, it’s the best treatment in the world.”