Equine Assisted


HOPE Ranch is a beautiful 8 acre ranch in the hills south west of Rochester, Minnesota, that specializes in:

  • Equine Facilitated Staff Development
  • Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)
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Kit, the founder of HOPE Ranch, is a business professional as owner/founder of HOPE Ranch, and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and an EAGALA Certified Psychotherapist and Horse Specialist. Her experience in social work gives her unique insight and understanding in systems through corporate, private and governmental settings. Kit also facilitates for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s Women Entrepreneurial Roundtable.

Kit received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and her MSSW in Clinical Work with children, youth, and families from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Before starting HOPE Ranch, Kit gained experience working with children, adults and families at a variety of agencies and facilities including Olmsted County, Omnia Family Services, Gerard Treatment Facilities, Mendota Mental Health Institute, and Mayo Clinic. Kit has been riding horses since she was 4 years old. Training her horses and trail riding are two of her greatest passions.

Kit started this private practice in 1999 allowing her the opportunity to provide a variety of services including experiential organizational development and team building. HOPE Ranch offers team development and staff enrichment opportunities utilizing EAGALA model equine assisted development, a very powerful horce facilitated approach. She also offers traditional in-office, play, and/or EAGALA model equine assisted psychotherapy for individuals, families, and groups.

Along with her therapy dog Honey, her three cats and six horses, Kit’s goal is to make people feel at home on the Ranch and to create space for people to experience the wonderful growth and healing that working with animals offers.


HOPE Ranch is currently accepting and processing applications for additional mental health staff. Click here to be taken to employment information and description.


HOPE Ranch is currently accepting and processing applications for mental health intern(s).



EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist with past experience in mental health and addictions.


Kelly is a former intern of HOPE Ranch. She is currently an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist. Her undergraduate degree is in Biblical Theology and Counseling Psychology. Kelly holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is a Licensed Special Education teacher.

Kelly grew up around horses, always having a desire to share her passion for these wonderful creatures with others. After completing high school, she worked at summer camps for a few years leading trail rides and giving riding lessons. As much as she loved teaching and working in the camp setting, her passion for people led her to pursue working in the education field, so she could combine two of her biggest passions – teaching and horses. At HOPE Ranch she is able to do just that. As an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist, Kelly’s role is to co-facilitate Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.


HOPE Ranch is currently accepting and processing applications for equine intern(s).



Tom is a retiree with thirty eight years in the computer industry as a software engineer and certified project manager, seven years as a K-12 licensed Business Education teacher, and EAGALA Certified specialist. Tom earned BA and MBA degrees from the University of St Thomas. In addition to teaching business and computer content, Tom has taught CPR and Driver Improvement courses, and has been Crisis Prevention Institute certified. Tom also has US Patents to his credit for his software work.

Tom assists at HOPE Ranch with co-facilitating Equine Assisted Development and course and program development.



Renae Sander

Renae is a long-time Rochester resident. She has worked in a variety of sales and marketing positions as well as been a Small Business Owner. Renae has a BA in English and Organizational Communications from Concordia College. Although new to horses, Renae is no stranger to animals and shares her home with a dog and a cat. She enjoys anything theatrical and is a proud supporter of the arts at all levels.


HOPE Ranch does not offer riding lessons or activities requiring mounting of a horse. Experiential activities are utilized to facilitate teamwork, problem-solving, communication skills, and more without mounting a horse.

The EAGALA model, EAP and EAL focus on interaction with the horse as part of the facilitation team. 100% of activities are done on the ground – no riding is involved.

Experience with horses is not required to benefit from the healing power of horses.