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River Pines Horse Sanctuary | Missoula, Montana

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River Pines Horse Sanctuary | Missoula, Montana

About River Pines Horse Sanctuary

Est. 1977

An organization dedicated to providing forever homes to abandoned, abused and neglected horses. We specialize in accepting horses with social and/or emotional rehabilitation issues. We provide a natural, herd-based living environment offering safety, health enhancement, companionship, and play for horses in need.


When appropriate, our horses then assist in teaching human development, social and emotional intelligence skills, nature immersion, and basic natural horsemanship for children and adults of all ages. Many of our horses also participate in providing community service opportunities for at-risk youths, assisting in developing knowledge and equine-based skills.


They assist in increasing community awareness through our service projects such as volunteer opportunities, equine skill-based internships and mentoring opportunities. We also provide opportunities for horse husbandry and equine management programs for disadvantaged and at-risk youth on an individual basis.


River Pines Horse Sanctuary offers mentoring programs for local high school Senior Projects.  Seniors may learn about the business-end of rescues and sanctuaries, rescued horses, equine care and management, natural horsemanship and equine science.


We accept donations such as hay, grain, grooming tools, winter blankets for small to extra-large horses, and cash, checks, visa, master-card and other gift cards for daily maintenance and feed, medical emergencies, humane euthanasia, shelter creation and maintenance, fencing materials and more in order to provide and care for these amazing animals.


Monetary donations and volunteer help are especially appreciated!

Meet the Herd: Our Residents - Click on a photo to read their story


Our Two-Fold Mission & Philosophy

Mission & Philisophy

First, to rescue any equine species from endangerment through neglect, abuse or abandonment. 


To provide sanctuary for horses and ponies, mules and burros from endangerment through neglect, physical and emotional abuse and/or abandonment and to provide permanent, end-of–life care for our residents; we are dedicated to providing a forever home to these horses.  We provide a natural, herd-based living environment offering safety, health enhancement, companionship and play.


We provide health care – maintenance and enhancement, training when appropriate, and safety in a herd-based environment for all animals in our care. 


We offer a volunteer program* to engage the local community to engage with the horses as we provide this horse sanctuary as a community service.  We have sponsorships, fostering and virtual adoption opportunities as additional choices for the community to help support the horses in our care. 


We will provide permanent residence, promote optimum physical health and emotional rehabilitation to the highest potential for each individual horse in our care.


We will offer optimum re-socialization skills for each horse based on their individual experiences and history.


To provide opportunities of mutual benefit through interaction with children and adults participating in Equine Facilitated Learning activities, natural horsemanship, equine husbandry and management skills, Community Service for at-risk youth and mentoring and internship programs when appropriate for each individual horse.


Second, to offer personal growth and education through equine guided activities - creating place and purpose for the horses we serve.


To offer Equine Facilitated Learning opportunities to anyone seeking resiliency skills, trauma remediation, leadership training, social and emotional fitness, inspiration, character development, suicide prevention and spiritual development.

We provide professionally developed workshops and programs to support the needs of the community.  Our professional instructors are highly skilled in the field of Equine Facilitated Learning through their training in the MontanaQuest Equine Guided Facilitator Training Program, an in-depth apprenticeship for educators and horse handlers.

Our execution of purpose will be based on a foundation of optimum health and safety for our rescued equines, staff, volunteers, interns and trainees while cultivating the highest possible outcome for the animals; providing educational and training opportunities for said equines, staff, volunteers, interns and trainees, to include raising community awareness through our many programs.


Our core values are:  optimal health, safety and socialization for the horses; to ensure dignity and respect for each individual animal; to use mindfulness in every interaction with each horse; and finally, to cultivate each horse’s potential through natural, respectful and sentient training methods.

Our Guiding Philosophy

Based on scientific research measuring brain activity, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and all other species (any creature with an amygdala) are now considered to be sentient beings similar to humans. Recent studies have shown neural transmitter responses similar to humans when they are exposed to experiences of attachment, fear, separation, play and more. We believe each individual deserves the same respect and dignity we offer our human companions.


Through mutual respect, appropriate training, and play we can educate and train consensual leadership skills, an attitude of mutual aid, community building, sustainable lifestyle skills, and optimal physical and emotional health for all who participate here.


Safety is a primary focus for all horses and humans.


Authenticity, individuality, authentic community, and consensual leadership are our core values.


All are welcome, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or challenges of body or mind unless appropriate safety measures cannot be addressed.


Nature and the environment are to be treated with respect, consideration, and sustainability.

Meet Our Team

Meet Our Team

Board of Directors

SHARI MONTANA – President/Director, Horse and Volunteer Manager

My first memory is being on the back of a black horse named Trigger – riding in front of my Uncle Jack at age 2!  It’s been a love affair/obsession with horses ever since.  We couldn’t afford a horse when I was growing up, so I begged and borrowed horses from friends, relatives and strangers to love on and ride – I was the kid in the pasture who hung out and played with the horses for hours on end without riding or grooming – just watching and being with…I always wanted to just be one of them – to be in a horse body – so elegant, peaceful and self-contained – casually grazing with a twinkle in my eye and always on alert…I smelled them, drew them, read about them…At 25, I rented a horse – for lessons and riding – we lived near Los Angeles at the time and when I realized I couldn’t afford to buy land to bring him home, I convinced my husband to move to the countryside in Washington state so I could finally have a horse to touch and smell every day!  It took a few years until I purchased my first horse, Timmy, when I was 29 years old.  He was a 2 year-old grade bay gelding and as gentle as a breeze – but  - he soon taught me how much I didn’t know about horses – about their feed needs, upkeep, exercise needs, training and guidance, appropriate equipment  – I bought my beautiful western saddle before I had the horse so of course it didn’t come close to fitting him – and as he matured it only got worse.  This was the beginning of my life-long search for the latest and greatest in horse husbandry, horsemanship and finally to the best in equine science I can find.  I began rescuing and rehabilitating horses that were abused and neglected – usually starving – and discovered the most profound satisfaction in bringing these horses not only back into their healthy bodies, but I began exploring what I could do to bring them to into that state of elegant contentment that I loved to see in them when hanging out in the pasture – and that is my ultimate goal for each of our sanctuary horses here at RPHS – peaceful contentment, elegant beauty and most important their physical and emotional well-being. 

MICHAEL KENNEDY, PE - Vice President





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