Kimber Main Hirsch, B.A.,SPED., M.A. SPED., Graduate Certificate in Autism
As President and Chairman of RETREAT, “Ms. Kimber” has been working with children with special needs for over 25 years and working with horses for almost 35! A Native El Pasoan, she has a Master’s in Special Education with a Graduate Certificate in Autism, and is a Certified Special Education Teacher in Texas and New Mexico. She is working toward her certification as Board Certified Behavior Analyst and works with children both on horseback and in our private therapy room, which is specifically equipped for children with Autism. As an expert in Autism and Pervasive
Development Disorders, as well as children with diagnosed behavioral disorders, Ms. Kimber designs and conducts all of the lessons for children with special needs. Ms. Kimber has advanced training in evidence-based intervention practices such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), TEACCH, PECS, RDI and other methodologies, which she incorporates into her riding therapy. She is also proficient in American Sign Language (ASL).
Formerly an in-home ABA Therapist, Kimber received her ABA training at The University of Washington and has over 20 yrs using ABA techniques with children with special needs, most of whom were on the Autism Spectrum.
Ms. Kimber grew up with horses and has been actively riding since 1983.Over the years, she has taken numerous classes and clinics in specific riding techniques in both Western and English disciplines, as well as advanced level “train the trainer” courses. She has been teaching riding since 1993.
In 1994, while working as an in-home ABA therapist and volunteering as the leader of the only all-disabled Girl Scout Troop in Western Washington, she introduced a non-verbal child with autism to horseback riding and, miraculously, within two weeks he said his first word: “horse.” From that point on, her dedication to special needs children and her love of horses merged, and she has been working with and developing equine programs for children with disabilities ever since.
“I incorporate both therapeutic riding techniques and hippotherapy approaches in order to achieve developmental goals with special needs?students. When working with a child with special needs I am willing to evaluate an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and incorporate some of the same goals into a class. I am also willing to coordinate our exercises and activities with other caregivers, such as O/Ts, P/Ts, SLPs or M.D.s. In special circumstances, I am willing to attend an Annual Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting, so that your child receives unified goals across the board that are consistent with our therapeutic riding goals. Most of all, though, my goal is that all of my students gain the self-confidence and skills to safely ride and have fun around horses. They are truly majestic animals and can provide a lifetime of love with the proper knowledge.” ?
Meet Our Team!
We have one of the most advanced teams of riding instructors, each with their own specialty. Take a second to get to know them!
Mrs. Madeline Laiz, B.CJ, MSW Intern
Ms. Maddy has been riding horses all of her life and previously worked at the El Paso Sheriff’s Posse running the barn. Maddy has a Master’s in Social Work and wants to one day work as a full time therapist working with children with challenging backgrounds and helping them heal using horses. Maddy runs our Horses for Homeschooler’s Program and is available for private and group lessons during the week.
Mrs. Lauren Ramos
Ms. Lauren is an English Riding Specialist who works with youth of all ages. She has been riding for 27 years. Lauren also assists in lessons for children with special needs. Interesting fact: Ms. Lauren competed in a Western-Style Gymkhana riding in an English Saddle and gave all those cowboys a run for their money!
Ms. Taylor Borden-Barefoot
We’re excited that Taylor and her horse, Kali, joined Rancho in 2021! Taylor is a Western riding specialist who has been riding for over 10 years and is well known in local equestrian circles. Taylor is a Creative Writing major at UTEP and is available both weekdays and weekends for private and group lessons.
Ms. Shea Johnson
Shea is a professional Dressage Rider who competes nationwide. She is from Chaparral but currently lives in the Albuquerque area. Shea is usually in town on the weekends and works with our trainers and advanced riders by appointment only. Having Shea’s expertise and experience at Rancho is a true blessing!
As a 501(c)(3), we rely on our volunteers to help us keep the ranch running! We are very fortunate to have a group of dedicated people who give freely of their time to help us stay afloat.
Below are three of our most seasoned volunteers, but we have dozens more. If you are interested in volunteering, PLEASE CONTACT US! We always have opportunities to help!!
Daniel is a Senior at Franklin High School and would one day like to run a therapeutic program similar to ours. You’ll see him teaching students how to rope as well as ride! He is also a budding guitar player and frequently plays country tunes around the barn.
Camille is a Freshman at New Mexico State University and volunteers with both Horses4Homeschoolers and on the weekends. (She’s in line for the next bedroom that comes available in the house)
Jules was a student here for many years when she was a child and she worked as a camp counselor and now volunteers in the Horse4Homeschoolers program. She is working on an Associates Degree in Engineering.
Behind the Scenes
Les Hirsch, Administration
Les is Kimber’s husband of 30 years. That pretty well explains his role around the barn!
Gary Hogue, Farrier
Gary does our horses’ feet so you’ll likely see him somewhere at the barn under a horse. With all the horses we have, being our farrier is pretty much a full-time job…. but Gary has clients all over the area, so hit him up if you’re looking for a good trim.