Courtney Grimshaw Equine Therapeutic Program

The Courtney Grimshaw Equine Therapeutic Program, affectionately known as “Courtney Cares”, at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is a Premier Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) Accredited program. It was founded in 2011 and serves children, adults, and veterans in Brazos County. Furthermore, the program provides an experiential service learning laboratory for Aggie student volunteers to learn about the therapeutic horsemanship industry while serving the community and demonstrating the Texas A&M core values—loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, respect, and selfless service.

Who is Courtney Grimshaw?
Courtney Anne Grimshaw was an accomplished businesswoman and internationally ranked dressage competitor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and beef cattle production from Texas A&M in 1985, and a master’s degree in public accounting from the McComb School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

 Courtney was involved in several community endeavors in the United States and Kazakhstan, and she travelled the world as a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. As a board member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators and past board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Almaty, Courtney conferred with the International Monetary Fund and gave presentations to world business and military leaders on energy and mining taxation, contract negotiation, tax policy, mergers, and acquisitions. With her zest for life, limitless energy and unique sense of humor, Courtney developed a close network of friends around the world.
 At the time of her death, Courtney was in the process of building her permanent home and horse ranch in Thorndale, Texas, where she had plans to begin an equine therapeutic program. The establishment of the Courtney Grimshaw Equine Therapeutic Program continues her legacy of service and gives testimony to her extraordinary life.

How did the program originate?
In 2011, Jim Grimshaw, Courtney’s brother, contacted the Texas A&M University System about the possibility of establishing an equine therapeutic program in her honor. Shortly thereafter, the pilot program, affectionately known as “Courtney Cares,” began in the fall of 2012. The program was initially funded by a generous donation made by the Grimshaw family, and continues with their support, as well as the donations of others honoring Courtney.

How does the program operate?
Courtney Cares is managed by the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and supported by unique partnerships with Parsons Mounted Cavalry (PMC) and ROCK (Ride On Center for Kids). ROCK, ( based in Georgetown, Texas, has partnered with the Texas A&M University System to provide the knowledge and expertise in equine-assisted activities and therapies. ROCK administers the management, consulting, and technical assistance to ensure the success of this program. PMC ( provides the horses, expert horsemanship skills, and training for a solid and safe program. Courtney Cares is available to individuals in our community, with an emphasis on children and adults with physical and/or cognitive disabilities and veterans. Furthermore, Courtney Cares offers three distinct programs: equine-assisted activities, hippotherapy, and Equine Services for Heroes.

 Equine-assisted activities, also known as therapeutic horsemanship lessons, are designed to teach horsemanship and riding skills to individuals with special needs with the goal of increasing functional life skills. Therapeutic horsemanship lessons are taught by PATH International certified therapeutic riding instructors.
Courtney Cares offers physical therapy using the principles of hippotherapy. Hippotherapy “refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes” (American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from Hippotherapy lessons at Courtney Cares are taught by a licensed physical therapist.
Equine Services for Heroes is a program for active duty service members and veterans. Participants in the program partner with Parsons Mounted Calvary horses and veteran volunteers. A meal is offered during the session and a horsemanship lesson follows. The goal of this program is to improve the lives of servicemen and women who have served in the military and may benefit from a connection with the horse and the fellowship of other veterans.
The Courtney Cares mission is to cultivate future leaders and supporters of equine-assisted activities and therapies through education and service learning opportunities. Thus, we aim to provide real-world teaching experiences to Texas A&M University undergraduate and graduate students who may be interested in aspects of the equine assisted activities and therapy industry.  The experiences gained and the lessons learned from this program will enhance volunteers’ knowledge of general equine therapeutic protocols while serving the local community as a laboratory for rehabilitation and overall quality horsemanship.

 Individuals with cognitive, physical, and/or emotional disabilities can benefit from equine-assisted activities and therapies. The dynamic movement of the horse simulates normal human gait and thus can impart that movement to participants as they improve in functional skills such as flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem.

Individuals with the following disabilities commonly participate and benefit from equine-assisted activities and therapies:

 Muscular Dystrophy
 Cerebral Palsy
 Visual Impairment
 Down Syndrome
 Autism Spectrum Disorders
 Multiple Sclerosis
 Spina Bifida
 Emotional Injuries
 Brain Injuries
 Spinal Cord Injuries
 Learning Disabilities
 Attention Deficit Disorder
 Cardiovascular Accident/Stroke
 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Research and Education

Courtney Cares is committed to research and education.  In January 2018, Courtney Cares became a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Higher Education Member, offering Texas A&M University students access to not only exceptional educational resources but also a solid base for networking and success in the equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) industry. Additionally, in January 2018, Texas A&M University offered its first EAAT course, BIMS 289 “Introduction to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy,” taught by Courtney Cares Executive Director Dr. Nancy Krenek and Courtney Cares Lead Therapist Dr. Priscilla Lightsey.  Texas A&M students enrolled in this course, volunteer at Courtney Cares to fulfill their laboratory requirement.

EAAT Fall 2018 Flier

To date, Courtney Cares has facilitated several internships with Courtney Cares and ROCK (Ride On Center for Kids) and also assisted in collaboration with local departments at Texas A&M University for further research studies. Documenting the outputs and impact of this intervention is critical to upholding the Texas A&M University core value of excellence. This research leads to information of “how and why” this connection and therapeutic activity is so powerful for children, adults, and veterans. Additionally, Courtney Cares assists in educating volunteers who are interested in becoming PATH Intl. certified instructors and currently boasts a 100% pass rate for the instructor certification exam.

Get Involved! 

Not only does Courtney Cares make a difference in the lives of our clients and their families, we also make a difference in the lives of our volunteers! While volunteering at Courtney Cares, you will learn new skills, meet new people, and experience the incredible feeling that comes from sharing your time and talent with our clients.   Click on the Volunteer tab to learn more!

If you believe that Courtney Cares would be a good fit for you and/or your children, please contact us by phone (936-245-4489) or email ( We currently have a waiting list for our services, so we encourage you to contact us prior to submitting an application.