“Hello everyone! My name is Abigail Simmons, and I am an occupational therapy student from Omaha, Nebraska. I am in my final semester of grad school with the College of Saint Mary and will graduate with my Doctor of Occupational Therapy in May. The final portion of the doctoral program is to complete and disseminate a final capstone project, which is why I am at High Horses this winter as an intern working with Shari Gliedman-Baker and Sue Miller. If you see me around the barn, feel free to stop and chat with me, especially if you have questions about OT or my project! I am so very excited to be working with everyone at High Horses and looking forward to the next couple of months!”
Get to Know Abigail: Abigail’s grandmother is an avid horsewoman who owned 2 Morgan horses, Ace and Dexter, while Abigail was growing up. Young Abigail began riding Dexter at age 2 ½, and driving as soon as her legs were long enough to touch the floor of the carriage, around 8 years old. She fell in love with horses and eagerly learned as much as she possibly could about them, including several different disciplines. Abigail began competing around age 9 in mostly driving competitions but also a few riding ones, and continued until she enrolled in college in 2017. Before college, being homeschooled from K-12th grade allowed Abigail to spend time at the barn during the nice parts of the day, and she would make up for the lost school time in the evenings or early mornings. When she decided to go into occupational therapy, it was with the goal of practicing in an equine therapy center one day. And this is what has led her to join the team High Horses this winter.
About Abigail’s Project: The doctoral capstone project begins in the first semester of grad school with identifying a topic the student is passionate about and thoroughly researching it. After that, the student completes the lengthy process of developing a project plan and implementing it. Abigail originally focused her research on women who had experienced trauma, and how this trauma affects their sensory processing system. She also researched how occupational therapy using a sensory integration technique through equine-assisted therapy strategies might help this population. As she continued to finalize her project plan, she expanded her focus population to all individuals, and how the sensory system can be affected through equine-assisted therapy (both TR and hippotherapy).