Editor’s note: Each month, Social Venture Partners Boulder County produces a Nonprofit Spotlight to highlight the work of nonprofits in Boulder County.
BOULDER — Founded in 2000, Medicine Horse provides equine facilitated psychotherapy in Boulder County. It was one of the early participants of Social Venture Partners’ Catapult Program, a capacity building program for local nonprofits, graduating from the program in 2007.
Guided by licensed therapists trained in EFP, Medicine Horse places a strong emphasis on fostering relationships and creating positive experiences. Participants not only build connections with horses but also with peers, cultivating trust and self-confidence. Unlike therapeutic riding, EFP involves predominantly groundwork, facilitating emotional connection and self-regulation.
Corey Hollister joined Medicine Horse as the executive director in October 2022 and has overseen the growth of the organization. It recently moved from a shared facility to their own 33-acre facility, Papillion Ranch, in Longmont. Corey said, “Our main goal right now is to be able to grow programming and serve more individuals who struggle with access to quality mental health services.”
Their signature programming is provided to participants for free and includes Operation Be Herd, a group for veterans and active-duty military service members; Wholeness with Horses for people impacted by breast cancer; Rainbow Wranglers for LGBTQ+ youth; and Giddy-Up for high school aged youth. Medicine Horse also works with partners such as the Main Street School, Mental Health Partners, TGTHR and the Family Learning Center to deliver programming directly to their communities.
They have internship programs with Naropa University and University of Denver, where graduating students can start seeing clients under supervision which allows them to provide scholarships for individual therapy. Through their signature programs, scholarship programs and their work with community partners, Corey said, “[We are] focused on reaching those in our community who are currently facing challenges or have faced historic challenges with access to quality mental health services” and deliver services to those people at no cost. The organization is projecting a 65% increase in programming in 2024, addressing diverse community needs.
As either a complement to traditional therapy or as an alternative, the outcomes of EFP are measurable and meaningful. He said, “for many individuals a traditional talk-based therapy setting may not be as productive as they would hope — for youth especially — they may be less comfortable in that kind of environment. Individuals can have transformational experiences and develop lasting skills while working with the horses.”
Medicine Horse offers events to the general community as well. Anyone who wishes may register to attend a monthly Meditation with Horses, “which is an opportunity for people in the community to come out to the property and get to spend some time with the horses and have a unique experience,” says Corey. “You can support our work by sponsoring an animal — not just a horse, there are also mini horses, goats, donkeys, and sheep — or become a member of the Barn Crew.”
Jennifer Bradford is former operations manager at Social Venture Partners Boulder County.