Relaxing Equine Simulator Therapy (REST)
GAIT, LLC is the company co-founded by Harriet Phillips and Marilyn Brown in 2012. They established the company to research, engineer, design, manufacture and market REST®. REST® stands for Relaxing Equine Simulator Therapy. It is an electro-mechanical seat intended for use by the neurodiverse community: children and adults affected by autism spectrum disorders, attention hyperactive deficit disorders, and trauma. REST® received two U.S. patents in 2016 and is currently being manufactured in St. Joseph, Michigan, about 45 minutes from the corporate home in South Bend, Indiana.
Marilyn was inspired by her business partner and friend, Harriet. After all, it was the grandson of one of Harriet’s friends that sparked their burning passion to create REST®. One day in 2012, while Harriet and Marilyn sat on our Lake Michigan beach, she related to Marilyn the story of how Alex, a boy with autism, traveled with his family to a dude ranch in a western state. Magically, the boy went from “meltdown” and panic, and turned to “mellow” after finally getting up on and riding a slow, walking horse. Harriet wondered out loud to me why in this world of plastics, robotics and computers no one had invented a machine to replicate that experience. Why indeed! So the two retired business women began their first phase of research. Lo and behold! Nothing like it was available in the marketplace, so they thought “why not us?” They’d already had successful careers. Marilyn was 73 years old at the time. Harriet was 63. So began their late-life journey that continues to this day five years later.
They believe REST® is significant because it enables the benefits of equine-assisted (or hippo) therapy to be enjoyed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. The therapeutic value of hippotherapy has been well documented. However, it can be costly, especially when deployed on a regular basis. For many in the neurodiverse community, it is an added expense they cannot readily assume. Furthermore, when a child has a meltdown at 3:00 a.m., it’s not a viable option to pack up that child and drive to a stable! REST® is a one-time expense that requires no feeding, grooming or clean up. You cannot keep a horse in the middle of your living room and REST goes with any décor!
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