Animal assisted therapy gets approval

The Independence City Council Tuesday, Nov. 27, approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that will enable the nonprofit organization Hold Your Horses to engage in animal assisted therapy at 6824 County Road 6.

The City Council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.


City Planner Mark Kaltsas explained that animal assisted therapy is a conditional use in the Agricultural Zoning district, and that Hold Your Horses meets all of the conditions. The City Council will review the CUP annually.

Hold Your Horses has trained staff and volunteers who use horses and dogs to provide therapy services to disabled children. Under the CUP, only horses and dogs will be allowed. Horses will be housed on the property, Dogs will be housed elsewhere and brought in during hours of operation, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and possibly for special events.

Three part-time professionals and three independent contractors provide services for Hold Your Horses, which has offices in Golden Valley and is leasing the 27-acre County Road 6 property.

Planner Kaltsas said the site already has all of the buildings needed to perform animal assisted therapy, and the organization is not planning to add or expand buildings. An existing bathroom is being upgraded to meet needs of disabled clients. The stable, indoor riding arena and related buildings are located on a secluded part of the site.

On its website, Hold Your Horses describes what it does, “Hold Your Horses engages a team of professionals that includes licensed clinicians in occupational therapy, physical therapy and psychology. Adaptive riding instructors, horse trainers and experienced horse handlers are also critical to the professional service team. Oh and don’t forget our equine partners Jack, Ghost, Lily and Yosi, Buddy and Whisper who are all looking forward to meeting you!”

Hold Your Horses offers individual sessions to three to eight clients daily, Monday through Friday. Once or twice a week, small groups of 10 or fewer participants come in for sessions. The organization also hosts school field trips or senior visits of 20 or fewer participants up to five times each year. Community educational events for 25 or fewer attendees will be offered annually and might run Friday through Sunday or into the early evening.

City Councilor Linda Betts moved that the City Council approve the resolution and spoke glowingly of how contact with animals can help disabled children. “That type of operation is really good,” she said.



Independence has been the scene of 24 traffic accidents from Oct. to Nov. 15 — most of them on Highway 12, said Ray McCoy, director of West Hennepin Public Safety. Accidents also have happened on County Road 11 and County Road 6. Eleven of the accidents resulted in personal injuries, one of them caused a death, and 12 resulted in property damage.

The most recent accident on Thanksgiving evening was not counted amongst the 24 crashes. McCoy said the car slid on a patch of black ice and took down a power pole. Loose power lines were sending out sparks when police arrived on the scene.

After the City Council meeting, several people stood in the hallway and said they were concerned about the large number of accidents — especially on Highway 12.

One person commented that County Roads 6 and 11 and Highway 12 are narrow two-lane highways and winter is coming. Drivers need to be extra cautious.