Home Health care provider Minnesota Hospital combines horses and health care – InForum

Minnesota Hospital combines horses and health care – InForum


CROSBY — Most people have never heard the phrase, “There’s a horse in the hospital today,” but those at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby know it very well.

Cuyuna Regional Medical Center hosts a weekly “take your pet to work” day for its care center patients. The care center strives to schedule pet visits with cats, dogs, goats, and even horses to interact with residents. The event has been part of CRMC’s programming for about 10 years and Wednesday, September 7 was not the first time a horse came to visit.

Residents of the Care Center were surprised Wednesday with a visit from Vegas, a once-wild and now-tame mustang. Ashlin Schneider, a certified practical nurse at the CRMC-Care Center, brought Vegas into the program.

Vegas seemed thrilled to visit long-term care residents who gathered outside the care center to see him. Vegas wasn’t the only one excited, however.

“Residents really love seeing animals, it kind of revives them and brings them back,” said Rachel Weidell, director of activities for the Care Center. “It’s good to reminisce and it’s good for their minds too. It’s nice to have them come (and) see all kinds of creatures.

Residents enjoyed the beautiful weather while petting and feeding Vegas treats. Care Center resident Benita Harrison said she didn’t want to come in until Vegas left.

Cuyuna Regional Medical Center-Care Center patient Doris feeds Vegas during her hospital visit Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2022.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Weidell used to bring in her two horses for residents, but she will be moving soon. Before Weidell, another employee brought in her horses. The tradition is set to continue with Schneider and his horses in the future.

Vegas is an 8-year-old mustang gelding who spent six years with Schneider. Schneider entered the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Extreme Mustang Makeover contest as a teenager and later got Vegas.

“I was 13 and there’s an event called Extreme Mustang Makeover,” Schneider, 20, said. “So you have about 100 days to take a wild horse and for the youngsters you just train them to lead and back and you can do freestyle events.”

Schneider begged her parents to do it and they initially said no, but eventually changed their minds.

A woman in a wheelchair reaches out to stroke a horse's muzzle while its owner holds on to a leash
Ashlin Schneider and her horse Vegas interact with Bernita Harrison, a long-term care patient at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Vegas was a wild horse originally from Nevada, but Schneider went to Nashville to look for him. She trained him and after 110 days, Vegas and Schneider made the trip from Minnesota to Virginia to compete.

Schneider was a 4-H participant throughout high school and still participates in barrel racing when she can. Now she divides her time between work at the health center and nursing school. She said she has a passion for horses and health care, and CRMC gives her the opportunity to combine the two for their long-term residents.

SARA GUYMON can be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/SaraGuymon.