Acorn Hill EAAT Inc

A nonprofit organization

$850 raised by 14 donors

28% complete

$3,000 Goal

People come to our PATH International ( Equine Assisted Activities or Therapies (EAAT) centers because there is nothing else like it in the world. Unlike traditional therapy our work takes place in a barn, arena or trail in the woods with ponies or horses who play a key role. Goals/objectives are met via Therapeutic Riding, Hippotherapy (treatment with the help of the horse; combined with licensed physical, occupational or speech language therapists) or during private Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy sessions.  

The vision for Acorn Hill EAAT, Inc was put into motion over 30 years ago, when Kelly (Ries) Peterson survived a near-fatal car accident when she was struck by a drunk driver. Both legs and her lower jaw were broken. She also suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). During surgery, her lungs filled with fluid. Things looked grim.  

After spending eleven days in a coma, Kelly woke up on December 27, 1988. Her first thought? How cool would it be to help a child who is unable to walk get onto the back of a horse? Kelly would devote her life to making that happen. In August of 2016, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc. was granted official 501(c)3 status. Her dream was realized. Kelly and her team have served all types of people with disabilities ever since, starting on December 1, 2016. See that vision come to life at a former boarding facility courtesy of Lakeland Public TV by clicking the image below this text. In 2017 program ponies were relocated to Upper Oak Farm, Motley (Leader). From 2018 to present participants have been able to ride in the outdoor arena during late spring and summer months. Winter came early in October 2019 and riding outdoors had to stop.  However, services creatively continued when enough funds were raised to install two heaters in the barn plus tarps to cover hay previously stored inside.  Newfound space/heat enabled us to successfully maneuver Ruby and her small riders through February 2020 inside the barn.  Many thanks to those who gave during giveMN 2019, for you kept kids riding!

Then the Unthinkable Happened. Before COVID19.  

On February 29, 2020, Kelly and Ty Peterson’s 18-year-old son Paul was in a freak snowmobile accident. His parents and local medics did their best to save him, but by the time the helicopter arrived, Paul was gone.

Paul Peterson was beloved by his family, community, friends, and fellow students. It is a profound loss, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.  The pilot program in Mental Health Services has been profoundly helpful for family and friends as we begin to heal.  From personal experience we know this type of service needs to be available during winter and inclement weather months as well.  All equine-assisted activities or therapies are desperately needed year-round. 

And yet, every year, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc. is forced to suspend Hippotherapy (therapy on horseback) and all equine-assisted services for clients because of long, harsh Minnesota winters. Sometimes, up to six months. Treatment programs need to be consistent. An online fundraiser "Keep Kids in Horse Therapy" ( Go Fund Me) was started in March.  The purpose is to raise funds for a covered, heated arena named after Paul.  By establishing the Paul Peterson Arena: A Place of Comfort, Strength, and Healing, Acorn Hill will be able to provide year-round treatment for children and adults with physical, cognitive, social and emotional disabilities.

A Mental Health Services pilot program took place spring/summer 2020.  Our story means something to Maury Glover of FOX9 News.  He and cameraman Casey spent a 2020 August Wednesday afternoon at Acorn Hill, doing interviews and even flying a drone over the farm and arena during a session.  The following Sunday evening our segment shone brightly in countless homes across the state and beyond. Click the picture below to watch the video. 

Currently alternative space is in use to keep kids riding. A garden shed houses CoCo Bear, a very special Equicizer that closely mimics the movement of a real horse. A wall heater keeps the small space comfortable as we continue to work on proper riding position, sitting tall head/shoulder/hips/heels in a line, strengthening core muscles and building endurance.

As you can see, we are in need of a covered, heated arena.   Fund rasising efforts are accelerating and while we have a good start we have a long way to go.  GiveMN 2022 is to help recover operating costs as we serve riders in our community.  Reduced lesson rates are requested, which are a fraction of actual cost, and some families are not able to pay at all.  Please consider making a donation today and join in as we continue "realizing the full potential of the horse to inspire stronger, happier and healthier people in central Minnesota."

Organization Data


Organization name

Acorn Hill EAAT Inc

other names

Acorn Hill

Tax id (EIN)



Health Children & Family Community


7969 65TH AVE SW
MOTLEY, MN 56466



Social Media