Our Mission. . .

is Reaching Inside Souls using Equines by providing the best therapy possible for those who need it most!

Karen has a son who is on the autistic spectrum, making her particularly aware of the challenges presented by unique cases. It is the desire of her heart to bring joy and life to individuals and families with similar needs.

Karen founded RISE Rehab in 2015 at RISE Therapeutic Equestrian Center just outside San Antonio. RISE incorporates her love of neurological rehabilitation and horses. She attended Texas A&M before graduating from physical therapy school in 1993 and developing a special interest in traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputee rehab, stroke and disabled sports.

Karen Fergason, PT, DPT, HPCS 

Founder, Clinical/Interim Executive Director 

Gail Hughes

Program Director 

After volunteering for years, utilizing her communication skills and her impressive experience serving families affected by disability, Gail joined the staff at RISE as the Program Director. She has an Associate’s Degree as a Deaf Support Specialist and  is the liaison for the vast volunteer team and for the families receiving services at RISE. 

She spent 30 years working in Texas public schools in various positions  including the PPCD (Pre-school Program for Children with Disabilities), has been  instrumental in starting several Special Needs Ministries in the state and has worked  with Joni and Friends International Disability Ministry hosting Wounded Warrior  Getaways, which is a Family Retreat for families affected by a family member returning injured from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Her accomplishments include being the proud wife of her husband Sam for 50  years(!), mom of two grown children and the grandmother to 4 wonderful  grandchildren.  In her words, “God has raised me up with  a love for families affected by disability and has been faithful to show me the places He has for me to share the gifts He has given me. It is my privilege to assist families,  kids, horses and volunteers as we strive to give direction, help and joy to our riders.” 

Andi Fergason

Equine Manager

Andi currently attends Texas State University where she is pursuing her major in Animal Science.  She loves to use her extraordinary equine skills to coordinate and train horses at RISE Therapeutic Equestrian Center.

She has been riding since she was six years old and has a natural instinct of horse behavior in addition to a background competing in the  Hunter / Jumper Division with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association.  Andi knows the horses at RISE well and cares for them daily. 

 

Andi is also a Level 4 Certified Riding Instructor.

Debbie Ross 

Equine Manager 

Debbie grew up next to an equine veterinarian, rode and cared for his horses, and helped with farm calls.  She was a member of a 4-H Horse Club, and later the U.S. Pony Club during which she participated in regional and national rallies and attained a rank of H-A. Debbie also worked for eight years at the Columbia Horse Center in Maryland, where she performed general barn duties, schooled lesson horses, taught lessons and summer riding camps, and was week-end barn manager. 


She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.S. in Animal Science, horse emphasis, then spent 18 years at east coast racetracks as groom, pony girl, exercise girl, assistant trainer, trainer and owner. 

An article that she wrote, “Attack That Tack,” was published by Horse Play magazine. Upon moving to Texas, she was employed by Retama Park in publicity and simulcasting departments for 27 years. Prior to joining RISE, Debbie had volunteered for two other therapeutic riding facilities; Special Equestrians in Bucks County, PA., and Saddle Light Center in Selma, TX.

Heidi Schmidt comes to RISE from the Frozen Tundra of Wisconsin as our  new Development Director. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from  the University of Phoenix and is a published author. Heidi became a part  of the special needs community when she and her husband adopted their  son from Central America. A few years later they adopted their daughter  from Eastern Europe. Heidi became part of the RISE community and began  her new adventure with horses when both of her children joined the  program. 

Heidi Schmidt

Development Director

Heidi is passionate about coming alongside special needs parents and  families and encouraging others along the journey. She has taken pain  and transformed it into words of healing and inspiration for others. Heidi  has served her community as a District Family Engagement Liaison and  has co-lead a special needs family support group alongside her husband,  Jeremy. Heidi is committed to continuing RISE's mission. She holds  serving our clients and families as an absolute honor and privilege.

Rebekah Stagg

Staff Member

Rebekah has been an avid horse enthusiast since she was gifted riding lessons at the age of 11. She took lessons at HCRA for 8 years before volunteering at RISE, where she was a perfect fit working with horses, sharing her equine knowledge with volunteers and most importantly from her perspective, working with the clients. Rebekah has been at RISE since the summer of 2019, and looks forward to being a part of the amazing RISE team for years to come. 

Our therapists are trained by The

American Hippotherapy Association

providing the highest quality of care

and safest environment for our clients. 

PATH International

or

Certified Horsemanship Association

or

United States Pony Clubs

 OUR INSTRUCTORS ARE CERTIFIED BY:

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RISE Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Home of RISE Rehab
23165 Bat Cave Rd

San Antonio, TX 78266

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