|N.E.A.T. staff is supervised by a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor/Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor .
N.E.A.T. co-founder Bambi Spahr is a PATH-Certified Therapeutic Equine Instructor (CTEI), a Nevada Medicaid Qualified Mental Health Associate (QMHA) and a lifelong horsewoman experienced and trained in both Western and English riding disciplines. (PATH is an international organization setting the standard for equine programs for those with special needs for over 50 years.) She has successfully shown in Hunter, Equitation, and Jumper competitions and competed in Western 4-H club events as a child.
Bambi has a B.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. from the University of Connecticut, and she spent the last 10 years of her career in executive management positions. Upon moving to Reno, she was fortunate to develop a good friendship with Laurie Roberts, who was looking for a riding companion. It is through this friendship that Bambi was introduced to the field of equine-facilitated therapy.Working in the field, Bambi has discovered her new passion: using horses to help adults and children with mental health, emotional, or behavioral challenges.”It has been so rewarding to work with my clients and see the significant progress they have made while working with horses,” says Bambi. “I now see the opportunity to combine my lifelong love of horses, over 23 years of management experience, and a desire to help others–the perfect job!”
N.E.A.T. co-founder Laurie Roberts is a Nevada Medicaid Qualified Mental Health Associate (QMHA). Laurie believes that, as with humans, there is no “one right way” when working with horses.Laurie has studied both childhood and aging in an academic setting. While pursuing her degree in early childhood education, Laurie worked in a number of private preschool and daycare programs, experiencing a variety of teaching philosophies–from a science-based curriculum to Head Start. Years later, she took a degree in sociology with an emphasis in aging.Continuing her education, Laurie has participated in seminars led by some of the most well-known people in the horse field, including the OK Corral series of EAGALA (Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association) founder Greg Kersten as well as seminars by Pat and Linda Parelli and Gawani Pony Boy. She has also studied the philosophies of leaders in the horse world such as Alois Podhjsky, Linda Tellington-Jones, Chris Irwin, Tom Dorrance, Linda Kohanov, Leif Halberg, and Monty Roberts, to name just a few.Laurie is excited about taking her unique and varied lifelong experiences–which include over a decade working with horses–and creating a therapeutic horse program to meet the needs of children, teens, and adults in northern Nevada.Amanda Judge
Amanda’s obsession with horses began when she was 8 years old. She grew up showing and competing in the hunter/jumper world. Amanda says she has always known that she would end up working professionally in the horse industry. While attending college Amanda worked as an assistant trainer for several dressage and jumping barns in the Reno area and then, after moving to Detroit in 2006, she worked as a trainer at a competitive jumping barn and helped train the University of Michigan Equestrian Team. In 2008 Amanda returned to Reno and in 2009, after receiving her Psychology degree from the University of Nevada she became a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Registered Instructor. With her degree and PATH certification Amanda found a way to combine her love of horses and her passion for helping others when she decided to pursue a career in equine assisted therapy. Amanda has worked as an equine manager, barn manager, program director and instructor in the industry, teaching individuals of all abilities and backgrounds and has helped many people find a path to healing and happiness through work with horse. N.E.A.T. is delighted to have Amanda as part of the team!
Michelle grew up in Yerington NV. She spent her early years learning to ride in 4-H, first riding western and then English and successfully competed in both disciplines. Michelle gave up riding to start a family. However, after the birth of her 4th child Michelle found herself ‘out of shape’ both physical and emotionally. Michelle intuitively realized the therapeutic effects horses have on humans, both mentally and physically and began riding again. Within a year of taking up riding again, she was back in prime physical shape and was happily showing in the local hunter/jumper show circuit. In 2006 Michelle moved to MO and begun to study with a German dressage trainer but returned to Reno in 2007 when she was offered a job as an assistant trainer for Big Air Riding Academy in Reno. In 2008 she opened All Things Equine, as a traveling trainer for beginner to intermediate riders of all disciplines. Over the years Michelle has attended extended workshops/classes from Gi Wani Pony Boy, Linda and Pat Parelli and attended multiple horse expos to learn from a variety of instructors. Michelle obtained her psychology degree from UNR, graduating Cum Laude in 2014 and is a Nevada Medicaid Qualified Mental Health Associate. Michelle was thrilled to be hired on at NEAT in 2015, now having the ability to combine her educational background with her passion for horses and helping others deal with mental health issues and N.E.A.T. is delighted to have Michelle as part of the team.
Lauren McCarthy grew up on a cattle ranch in Northern California. She is trained in western pleasure and competed in gymkhana’s and rodeo events throughout high school. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is pursuing her Master’s Degree at UNR (slated to graduate in 2019). She is a Qualified Mental Health Associate. Lauren states that ‘finding a way to combine my love of horses and my passion for helping and healing is truly a dream come true’. Lauren strives to provide support and empathy for those searching and suffering. “With the help of our amazing Horses at NEAT, I hope to be an agent of change and growth for our clients”