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Success Stories

Success Stories

The youth in our programs benefit in many ways from their time with horses. Most consistently, we see a marked increase in confidence and feelings of self-efficacy or the belief that they can accomplish what they set their mind to. For youth with anxiety, we see a real change in their anxiety or stress levels when they are with the horses and over the weeks they come to class. Here are just a few examples of kids who came through our program and the benefits they experienced. 


Chapin was always an anxious kid. When she was 11, her parents divorced and then she made the difficult transition from elementary to middle school. The grief and the changes in her life triggered her anxiety and she vomited in class on her first day of middle school. Her parents took her to counseling and she was diagnosed with ADHD and high anxiety and was given medication, which helped. Then, when they saw that Windhorse was offering a class for teens with anxiety, they jumped on the opportunity. Chapin loves horses and had already attended summer camps with Windhorse. But the Practicing Mindfulness with Horses class was unique and extremely helpful for Chapin. 

Chapin’s Mom Frances explains: “Every week I saw a change in her temperament and her ability to process the stress and really take the space that she needed to calm herself down, calm her body down and tune into herself, which came from the mindfulness class with the horses.”

Chapin has severe test anxiety and she uses the breathing exercises she learned in the Mindfulness with Horses class before she has to take a test and other times she feels her anxiety coming on. “This is a kid who had separation anxiety her whole life, who cried at every single drop off for an hour at pre-school all the way through kindergarten, who struggled to learn, struggled to retain knowledge, who struggled to be focused and didn’t have good grades,” explains Frances. And this year she’s had all As and a couple Bs and it’s just mind-blowing!”

Chapin says she would not have attended a mindfulness class if it didn’t involve horses. She created a strong bond with her horse Blue and used her new mindfulness skills to calm him when he was anxious. They helped each other regulate. And by the end of her six-week class she was able to do yoga on his back, including lying down.

“It’s just amazing to see this child who can lay on the back of a horse and be completely calm,” says Frances. “And that speaks volumes about the program and what they’re learning and what she’s able to gain. Not only that trust, but also relieve her anxiety, trust other people, learn to trust an animal, and then take that into her regular life. When she does escalate, she recognizes it, she practices the breathing techniques.”

“Her Dad and I are so proud of who she’s becoming. And to see that she’s now got those tools that she can take on for the rest of her life, what a gift.”


Taté participated in Practicing Mindfulness with Horses and other Windhorse classes in 2020 and 2021. Taté was adopted in 2020 after six years in foster care with his new family. His mom Jaime says they decided to enroll him in Windhorse classes because “Taté has always had a natural way with animals and has always liked working with them. We were looking for a way to boost his confidence and get him engaged with horses in a safe way and teach him how to ride. Taté is Native American so horses are part of his culture. And we wanted him to learn social/emotional skills.”

After Taté participated in Windhorse, Jaime noticed a huge boost in his confidence around animals and people, as well as in new situations. She says he now handles situations that would have been scary for him before with more grace. He also is better able to regulate his emotions and manage his anger, and has a general feeling of calm and well-being.

Of his experience at Windhorse, Taté says, “I learned how to communicate with the horses and that, as their leader, I need to protect them.”


When Natalie was 11, her grandmother and legal guardian, Deb, brought her to Windhorse. Natalie and her older brother had grown up in a chaotic and unstable household where they never knew if they would go to bed in the same place they woke up, or even if they would get dinner at night. They witnessed things that kids should not see and often had to fend for themselves. The psychological trauma that Natalie had experienced made it difficult for her to engage with others or feel empathy. But Natalie loved animals, and when Deb learned about Windhorse programs, she knew they would be a good fit for Natalie.

When Natalie started at Windhorse in the fall of 2019, she had poor boundaries with other kids and with animals. She had difficulty naming her emotions or discussing her experiences in class, preferring to disassociate. And when she encountered something hard, she was easily frustrated and wanted to give up.

After two six-week sessions, her grandmother Deb tells us: “I’ve seen such a tremendous change in Natalie in the past year. There’s a growth and a maturity and an empathy for others that she did not have before. She wasn’t able to comprehend how her actions affected other people or animals. And her ability to interact and have relationships has improved so much. I really attribute these changes to what she’s learned at Windhorse.”

“Windhorse gave her the maturity to participate in cross-country this fall and be a part of a team. She could work with others and be a team member because it took the focus off herself. In school this year she is so engaged. Her grades have improved greatly. Her perseverance is tremendous. Windhorse has been a very big factor in that. These kids need to have a success. They have to be encouraged and they have to be told “this is good” even if it’s not perfect. I consider Windhorse as part of our team for helping build these kids’ character.”


When Cade was five years old, his sister Annie was born with cystic fibrosis. At the same time, Cade’s Mom, Morgan, was diagnosed with a heart defect, a rare esophageal condition and pneumonia. Mom and baby had long hospital stays and moved out of state to be nearer to the care they needed. Cade and his Dad Colby stayed in Montana, and the family had to live apart for a time.

Cade had been a gregarious kid, but when his familiar world fell apart, he became withdrawn. He coped by acting out super-hero personas, wanting to save his family and regain some control. He began acting out at school. He was terrified about his Mom and baby sister’s health, and he wanted his family to be together.

Multiple surgeries later, Morgan healed, and the family learned to manage Annie’s cystic fibrosis. The family reunited and Morgan home-schooled Cade so that she could keep him close and help him recover. Throughout the ordeal, Cade had bottled up his feelings and put on a brave face for his family. He still had a hard time expressing himself and remained fearful about what might happen next. Morgan sought activities that could be healthy outlets for Cade. When Morgan heard about Windhorse, she knew it would be a good fit for her animal-loving son.

“We have seen amazing changes in Cade since he started with Windhorse in July,” says Morgan. “He is expressing himself more. He takes time to cool off when he’s frustrated or upset. He can communicate better with us and he realizes he doesn’t have to play a role but can just be himself. And we have seen him experience so much joy with the horses and with his peers in the classes. He is giggling again and being silly. It has been such a beautiful transformation. He was so tense and bottled up. Windhorse has played such a vital role in Cade’s healing.”

At Windhorse, Cade learned he doesn’t have to play a superhero because he IS one.


When 10-year-old Shaydin came to us for summer camp, she was going through some emotionally challenging experiences, including a father who was in jail. Her grandmother Colleen shared with us how Shaydin’s participation in Windhorse helped her through. “I was totally amazed at the changes in Shaydin when she attended Windhorse classes this year,” says Colleen. “I have never seen her so engaged in anything. She has experienced a tumultuous life that was stealing her courage and confidence. Through these classes I saw her emerge out of those anxious feelings and overcome them. She stays willing to try new things now. I also noticed how much it helped her to focus. We are also very thankful for Windhorse in helping us understand Shaydin more and what works for her. Windhorse is truly a blessing to any child who participates in their program.”




Reviews and Testimonies

"I’ve seen such a tremendous change in Natalie in the past year since she started in Windhorse classes. There’s a growth and a maturity and an empathy for others that she did not have before. She wasn’t able to comprehend how her actions affected other people or animals. And her ability to interact and have relationships has improved so much. I really attribute these changes to what she’s learned at Windhorse. "

Deb Sipes, Natalie's grandmother and legal guardian

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