Shari Montana, Founder & MontanaQuest
Senior Instructor

My lifelong fascination with horses began early - my very first memory is of riding my Mom’s horse when I was only 2 ½ - of his flowing black mane, the brown saddle horn, my blue snow pants and the gravel road. It was love at first ride… I’ve been riding and playing with horses ever since.

As Founder of River Pines Horse Sanctuary, I have been renegotiating the horse/human collaboration with abused, neglected and abandoned horses since 1976. Our mission is to provide a lifetime home of safety, comfort, companionship, play and end of life care for up to 20 horses in residence.

I’m a working, studio artist in my parallel career. I do traditional and narrative horse and pet portraits as well as my nature-based original drawings, paintings and ceramic sculpture.

My education includes (but is not limited to as I am a perpetual student): BFA in Painting and Ceramic Sculpture, UM, Missoula, MT, 2001; I studied Painting and Sculpture in a 3 Month Intensive at the International School of Art, Montecastello de Vibio, Perugia, Italy in 1994 BA in Clinical (Research) Psychology, with emphasis in Exercise and Emotion, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, 1987; Eponaquest Advanced Instructor, I studied Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Facilitated Emotional Intelligence (EFEI), at Eponaquest, Worldwide, in Amado, Arizona, 2008-2014 authorized to teach their Power of the Herd and Connection-Focused Therapy trainings I’ve trained with and/or studied natural and conscious horsemanship from: Tim Hayes, F. Klaus Hemfling, Alexander Nevzerov, Linda Kohanov, Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Monty Roberts, Frank Bell, Buck Brannaman, Carolyn Resnick, John Lyons, Pat Parelli, Mark Rashid and more – all I can get my hands on…

I’m dogmatic about no dogma whether horsemanship, politics or religion as there is a tool and a treasure in everyone and everything we’re exposed to. I went through the Parelli Levels 1-3 trainings from 2004-2007; I’ve attended numerous clinics with riders at all levels from Local to Olympic in disciplines from dressage and 3-day eventing to cutting, barrel racing and western pleasure.
My best instructors have been the amazing horses I’ve shared time with throughout my life! Thank you to each and every one!
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Jeanne Ann Wilson, MontanaQuest Instructor

My first bareback ride on a horse was at my great Uncle's ranch in Oklahoma and I was three. My love of horses has grown for me ever since. I just could never could get enough of just being around them. I was in grade school we moved to Montana and had a ranch west of Kalispell where we boarded horses. I was allowed to ride many of them in our pastures and rolling fields. I also raised and showed Shetland ponies and raised a little filly myself in early grade school.

My first visit to River Pines Farm was on 9/11/11 for a workshop gathering that had nothing to do with horses but that’s when I got to meet all the wonderful horses Shari cares for. Shortly thereafter I started as a Volunteer at River Pines Horse Sanctuary getting to know and care for the horses and other animals there that have been rescued. I quickly became a horse handler for Eponaquest workshops. I later was invited to attend an Eponaquest workshop by Shari and shortly after joined her Apprenticeship program. I graduated in October 2015 and I am currently an Instructor for MontanaQuest. In June 2016, I completed a Level 1 training to be an Equine Specialist for Eagala. Sharing my love and respect for horses and all that they teach us is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

I am a graduate of Flathead High School and attended Rocky Mountain College to pursue a music and art degree. Graduated from Humphrey’s Business College and have served as the Business Marketing Director for MCT Inc. for the last 15 years. I have also enjoyed being a member of The Business Women’s Network of Missoula for the last 20 years. I also enjoy sharing my Reiki, Massage and Toning skills with others.
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Marni Ammons, MontanaQuest Instructor

I learned of MontanaQuest last year, 2015, as a client; my life changed…

My career thus far was primarily as a registered nurse for 35 years with mental health breaks for myself. I worked as an Outward Bound Instructor, a White Water Raft Guide and a small ranch manager/owner. I also have a Bachelor Degree in Health and Physical Education, emphasis - Athletic Training.
Regarding nursing, I am proud of having become a Certified Flight Nurse and Certified Cardiac Intensive Care Nurse. Working at isolated Aboriginal Reserves in Canada, on the Hopi-Navajo Reservation in Arizona and on the Flathead Reservation in Montana are my favorite memories.

My Outward Bound years in Scotland were at Loch Eil Outward Bound. Expeditions consisted of mountaineering, hiking, sailing , and kayaking on rivers and the ocean. I was also the "Matron", ie. Nurse, when not instructing.

I became a raft guide in British Columbia. I was the first female raft guide on the rivers of B.C.'s Eastern Kootenay/Rocky Mountain region, the Lochsa and the Selway in Idaho. Other rivers I guided on were in Western Montana, Utah, Arizona - including the Grand Canyon of the Colorado , North Carolina, Georgia, and New Zealand.

Owning a small farm north of Missoula for 12 years was a mixed bag of challenges and successes. My biggest success was learning I no longer reacted allergically to horses as I had done for all my life!

Enter, "Snip", a 24 year old Arab gelding who took me on as his project using patience mixed with firmness, trust and goofiness for 6 years. I was in love!!! Next was "Nutmeg", a Shire/Quarter Horse – She moved in as a 3 year old; Snip had another project…

These horses, and others, have magically balanced my world with their inuition and honesty. Thus, I was lead to becoming a MontanaQuest (Epona-based) Instructor where we partner equally with horses to present a new outlook on life.

My passions as a member of the MontanaQuest team is facilitating clients to learn to "self- strengthen". Our emphasis is on emotional fitness; providing the tools that can, and do, strengthen inner focus and choice making. I especially reach out to those who have suicide as a part of their live's. Partnering with horses brings clarity like none other.
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Tina Carruthers, MontanaQuest Instructor
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