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Chinook Horses

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Counseling, Mental Health

Mission: To provide opportunities for individuals and families to engage learn & thrive outside of the classroom & traditional therapeutic environments by practicing equine assisted activities.

Target demographics: families, children, individuals, school groups, and organizations

Direct beneficiaries per year: 78 clients and conducted 200 sessions

Geographic areas served: Yellowstone County, Montana

Programs: Chinook Horses offers Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, Equine Facilitated Learning, and Equine Assisted Activities & Learning.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chinook Horses is a wonderful nonprofit that helps connect children and adults with special needs to free roaming horses in a confined and safe place. The horses have a "sense" built in to them that knows when someone needs a one-on-one contact. A soft muzzle rub or just their presence standing close can help remedy anxious or excitable behavior in the clients. I have witnessed it! This kind of interaction is so needed in helping children and adults cope. Their therapy sessions together with the horses unlocks potential and a chance of finding a calming and regenerating space. Chinook Horses provides this therapy!

Abby R.5

Board Member

Rating: 5

Chinook Horses is a wonderful nonprofit that helps troubled youth & adults. This is a wonderful organization helping those whom do not response to traditional therapies.

Kendyl R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began service with Chinook Horses as an AmeriCorps VISTA member back in August. Through my observations of sessions, I have witnessed the incredible power of healing through relationships with equines. Chinook Horses' incredible team consistently creates a safe atmosphere for learning and healing, and is a critical piece of the mental health ecosystem in south-central Montana.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’ve been a donor and volunteer for a few years with Chinook horses. I’ve witnessed first hand the gentle approach to equine therapy with adolescents. I’ve seen young adults step out of their comfort zone and open themselves up to gentle giants. It makes my heart happy to see the positive impact Abigail and her staff are accomplishing . Chinook Horses is so wonderful for our community.

Martha F.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Being a part of Chinook Horses is a great honor for me. Our model for healing through partnerships with horses has an incredible impact on our clients. Hearing their stories, and having had the opportunity to participate in session, I know the deep power of horse/human interaction in healing!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has done 2 programs and absorbed the information, had so much fun, and made friends. It was such a positive experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered as Chinook Horses' AmeriCorps VISTA in 2019 and 2020. My experience with this incredible organization was life-changing. I watched the equine specialist, mental health practitioners, and horses improve the lives of every person that entered the arena. I learned the importance of trauma-informed care and meeting people where they are in life. Chinook Horses provides compassionate care and support to everyone they meet and they truly live up to their mission.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am serving with Chinook Horses as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. When I first applied for the position, I never imagined the impact the organization could have on a community. I had the privilege of observing the equine-assisted learning sessions for three weeks. All my years with horses could not prepare me for the incredible transformation I saw within the partnerships between client and horse. The Chinook Horses' incredible team combines the EAGALA modality with social thinking to create an educational, fun, and safe atmosphere for learning. Over the three weeks I witnessed leaders emerge, children gain confidence, self-esteem, the ability to work as a team, how to emotionally self-regulate, and so much more.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Abigail and Kelly are amazing! They have helped my kid learn social skills that we were struggling with. After several sessions in the social group my kid now can tell us what emotion they are feeling.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an AmeriCorps VISTA serving Chinook Horses this year. This summer, I observed how impactful the work they do is for children in the social thinking group sessions. After talking with some of the parents, it was clear that what the children are learning about emotional self regulation and how to communicate with others, carries over into the home and school. The equine partners provide the children with honest feedback about their behavior and how it impacts others around them. I know how hard Chinook Horses works to be able to provide these sessions and more regardless of their clients' inability to pay. Abigail Hornik is passionate about her work and dedicated to providing therapeutic programs to as many people as possible that need it. This modality of therapeutic learning and discovery is not only an effective alternative to traditional talk therapy, it provides opportunities for individuals in small groups to interact in meaningful ways during the pandemic.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The work Abigail and her team do each and every day greatly impacts the well being of children and adults who have dealt with major challenges in their lives. The success stories are phenomenal. The ability of animals to reach us to help with the healing is awe inspiring. These horses are beautiful creatures and we can’t underestimate their power to heal.

1 Samantha D.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Abilgail and Kanye and Jackson's pack of horses has given new life to our son.... He now walks, talks and glows with self confidence. What he learned and took away from his experience with Chinook Horses has changed his outlook on life forever, or family is so grateful for Chinook Horses.

1 Jack N.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the honor to watch Chinook Horses grow over the past few years and see the amazing impact it has had not only for those who benefit from the therapy work done at Chinook Horses, but also the very positive impact it has had on the volunteers as well. I'm happy to say I was one. It was a very rewarding experience to work alongside horses and a very well trained staff. I would do it again.

The facility the program operates out of is top-notch, the equipment first-rate and a very well trained and educated staff. We are very lucky to have such a program in the Billings area.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I volunteered and donate to Chinook Horses because of the life-altering work I have witnessed, first hand. The look on the faces of the children as they are moved beyond measure by their experiences with the horses, has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. The professionals involved with Chinook Horses are devoted to providing extraordinary care and attention, and the results they achieve are proof of their success. It is a nurturing environment that fosters achievement through gentle encouragement and, of course, the magic of horses.

1 Ella C.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Chinook Horses is an outstanding nonprofit that really strengthens our community with the passion they put into their work.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has been a great privilege for the University of Mary to partner with Chinook Horses. They have provided our occupational therapy students with a wide variety of amazing learning experiences. We have collaborated with them on research projects as well as clinical fieldwork opportunities. Their staff is kind, enthusiastic, and highly skilled. Their program is fun, novel, and effective. Our recent research project revealed that Chinook Horses' participants make important functional improvements and their caregivers are thrilled with the outcomes. We are blessed to have this excellent program in our community!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Chinook Horses was a great fit for our family. The interaction with the horses really was amazing for my child as they learned to work in a group. This approach to learning and healing works.

1 Wynter G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Noah got introduced to this program a few years ago. A once shy and isolated little boy has found his way. He found his best friend in a horse named Sir Charlie. The horse was the highlight of his week. He found understanding to his emotions and the ability to decifer his feelings. The ladies who run this program our kind hearted and always willing to her a parents concern and give guidance. My son is who he is today because of this program. He is confident in his day to day goings and routines. We continue to support and be a part of this amazing program. Totally recommend this program for any family with special needs. I have attached a picture of my son with his favorite horse from the program.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son's general attitude has improved so much during equine therapy. Teachers at school have noticed an improvement with his willingness to participate in class and verbalize with them about tasks as well as with his peers during recess.

At home I've observed an increase in confidence to try new things and also increases conversation, hardly ever do I just get one-word answers or head shakes anymore.

My son's overall comfort with people and also with animals has improved even when animals are bigger than him.

I can't say enough good things about the equine therapy my son receives from Chinook Horses through Blue Skies!
With his successes, he gains confidence and I gain pride and relief watching him experience more of the world as a joyful thing instead of a fearful one.

Thank you all so much!

1 Julie A.4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Chinook Horses is enriching the Billings, MT community by offering a unique way for children to heal from trauma or deal with their learning or emotional disabilities by connecting with specially trained horses. These intimate sessions are coordinated by certified therapists allowing the children to interact with and bond with the horses: this process helps the children develop confidence, curiosity, and experience some joy in their frequently stressful lives.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have done about 5 6-week sessions with Chinook Horses. The gals are dedicated and passionate about supporting my students who vary from a variety of needs. These needs consist of autism, mental health, behavior problems and learning deficits. Every session we have attend each individual gains something positive from it like social learning concepts, self-regulation strategies, friends or even a confidence builder. This program has been so beneficial to our social curriculum Zones of Regulation. I appreciate the hard work Chinook Horses puts into their sessions.