Shari Montana began rescuing horses in 1977 – with a skeletal buckskin gelding named “Bucky”.


from Shari:

 “Bucky became healthy and went on to become the beloved horse of our whole family, especially my kids, as well as most of our friends and relatives! Then in 1982, I received a phone call, ‘Shari there’s a 3 year old thoroughbred at Play Fair Race Track, He’s going to be euthanized today if you don’t go get him…the owner’s new wife doesn’t like horses and won’t let him keep him!’  I went and rescued Reno Streak who lived for 27 years here with his favorite companion "Fancy", another racetrack rescue - you can read about Fancy in the horse bios - she is still with us...Word got around and soon we had 9 horses, then 13, then, in 2016, we decided we had to do something different in order to continue helping horses - we need help fund their growing numbers and needs - within 6 months we were at our capacity of 20 residents...and the story goes on...We now need more space so we can raise our capacity to help more horses.


  • 1977-1982

    • Shari Montana, Founder and Director informally began adopting, rehabilitating and providing homes for unwanted, abandoned, abused and neglected horses. 


  • 1982-current 

    • As the number of horses needing to be adopted and/or placed continued to grow due to rising costs of care, a downward spiral in the economy and other personal reasons coming from the community too numerous to mention…the need for a structured organization and broader community support became blatantly obvious – we found we needed financial support and volunteer labor until we could create a budget and financial base that would support the horses and 2-6 employees.  We limited the number of residents we could care for to 20 horses, ponies, donkeys, burros, mules or other equids.


  • 2009

    • We began to offer our rehabilitated horse residents to help out with programs at MontanaQuest Equine Guided Services – where they facilitate educational activities for adults and youths in personal growth workshops and leadership trainings – they receive a $25 donation/horse/day for their work from MQEGS that goes to help support all residents of RPHS.  It’s full circle here – humans help horses, then horses help humans…


  • Horses as Teachers

    • Horses navigate the stages of group development similar to that of humans yet much more quickly.  Their very existence depends on effective leadership and their ability to work together as a herd.  Horses provide a unique classroom for improving team performance, authentic leadership skills and personal growth.  In an equine facilitated classroom you can:

  • Energize your organization or relationship

  • Teach authentic community building skills

  • Inspire innovation and creativity

  • Increase communication skills

  • Raise self-awareness

  • Embrace diversity

  • Access emotional intelligence

  • Increase empowerment and resiliency

  • Build trust respect and collaboration

Programs offered through our partners at MontanaQuest EGS are designed to meet your group’s unique needs.


  • In October 2016, we applied for and received our confirmation as a Montana State Non-Profit Organization under a different name.


  • 2017 local horse lovers granted us $11,000.00 for hay and capitol improvements.


  • September 2018, for practical reasons and for our goal to become a Federal 501(c)(3) we re-configured and renamed our organization to become River Pines Horse Sanctuary and applied for and received our confirmation as a Montana State Non-Profit Organization.  We are now a formal nonprofit 501(c)(3) Horse Sanctuary and provide forever homes to our residents; we no longer do placement or offer horses for adoption.  We provide forever homes for horses not adoptable and would otherwise be sent to the kill yard.


  • 2018 we were Granted $10,000.00 for re-fencing 4,000 feet of perimeter fence – all put in place by an amazing group of volunteers by September!


  • 2018 two new round pens are added for EFL work and Training horses.


  • Between August and November 2018, we took in 6 dire-need horses whose owners lost their homes – 3 of these horses are tame but untrained; 2 are feral, 3-strike mustangs.  All of these horses have settled in and are showing deepening trust and engaging with humans – all will begin formal training in April 2019.  The 6th horse is a lovely, gentle 25yo Arabian mare with Cushing’s’ disease…these residents have pushed us to 5 over our prescribed limit of 20 horses – stretching our budget further than ever!  Remember DONATIONS are always welcome and needed - especially monthly contributions, much needed for security and sustainability!


  • March 2019 we applied for our Federal 501c3 Status with the IRS – SUCCESS - granted in June 2019!


  • 2019 We currently have 4 herds:


  • To date, RPHS’s staff has expanded to include Founder/Director, Shari Montana; a volunteer Horse Manager and a facility Manager.  We are thrilled to continue making positive change for horses in the equine welfare industry!


Our care is such that we have horses outliving predicted life expectancies and we are currently unable to accept new residents until we can expand our facility physically and financially, and have at least one permanent and full time employee. 

  • The Geriatrics – horses of a certain age who are not able to successfully negotiate a safe or happy quality of life with horses who are stronger and have higher mobility

  • The Weight-Watchers - for easy keepers, foundered horses and those with metabolic syndrome – our calorie counters…

  • Feral and/or untamed horses in training

  • The Boomers – healthier, rehabilitated abuse and neglect survivors – many of who work in MontanaQuest’s Equine Facilitated Learning programs.