Erin Kroiss knows horses. And she says it’s unbearable for her to see a horse in pain. As founder of Texas Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation in Weatherford, Kroiss uses her horse-healing hands to breathe new life into injured horses and keep performance horses in tip-top shape. A lifelong horse lover and brand-new mother, Kroiss balances the pull of her life’s calling with her four-month-old daughter’s Mommy-time.
What She Does
By dabbling in every aspect of the horse world, from hauling hay to assisting vets, Kroiss discovered her true purpose as an equine sports therapist. During her Texas State University college days, Kroiss volunteered at A.W.A.R.E. (Always Wanted A Riding Experience), a therapeutic riding program. Kroiss felt for the older horses, worn by their work, and was inspired by licensed massage therapists who donated time to rejuvenate the animals.
At Montana State University, Kroiss earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science and then moved to Kentucky’s Midway College, the first institution to offer a four-year program in equine therapy. Under the tutelage of equine therapy pioneer Mimi Porter, Kroiss earned her second bachelor’s degree in the practice.
After establishing a successful career in Kentucky, Kroiss blazed a trail to Texas where she began her own equine sports therapy outfit. Currently, Kroiss travels to the horses that need her care, but she envisions a state-of-the-art clinic that will offer a variety of services, including a spa and underwater treadmill (for the horses, of course).
A believer in noninvasive treatments to heal serious injuries and keep performance horses in top condition, she strictly abides by “no needles, no injections,” says Kroiss.
Consider Mocha, a paint mare, who injured her sesamoid bone after repeatedly kicking her stall. Mocha weighed 800 pounds when owner Karen Wilson called Kroiss onto the case. Kroiss’ two-month treatment plan with Mocha included electrical stimulation, photon (or light) therapy, massage and stretching. In addition, Kroiss taught Wilson to wrap Mocha’s leg for support. A year later, radiant Mocha now tops 1,100 pounds.
Of her protégée, Porter says Kroiss is devoted to helping horses. “Erin won’t give up,” Porter observes.
With her four-month-old daughter Madeline bouncing on her lap, Kroiss fondly recalls her first case – a pregnant horse that the veterinarian recommended putting down. “To save the horse’s life was the most amazing feeling. I saw her raise her baby; then I saw that baby go on to win races,” she says. “The [mother] horse was a good mother. She was a good racer, but a better mother. As humans, it’s our job to find the horse’s heart. Some only want to race. Some want to be mothers. Therapy horses need to love their job. All horses need to love what they do.”
How She Does It
As her own boss, Kroiss has learned to balance her career with being Madeline’s mom. “Some day, Madeline will grow up, and I won’t be her entire world. I want to enjoy her now,” Kroiss says. “So I try to stay present. When I’m with Madeline, I do my best as her mom. When I’m with a horse, I focus on that horse’s needs.”
Weekends present prime opportunities for Kroiss to pursue her passion. Kroiss says, “My husband is 100 percent supportive of my career. On the weekend, he’s happy to keep Madeline every minute. He’s a hands-on daddy.”
When Kroiss first steps onto a serious-injury case, she says doubt often creeps in, but she asks herself, “Can I help this horse?” She adds: “Then I pray, ‘Please, God, help me help this horse.’” Kroiss says the tension mounts when the horse is obviously well-loved by its family. “But when it turns around, it’s the best feeling. To help one of these gentle giants,” she reveals. “It makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile when I give them the quality of life they deserve.”