Sat, Sep 21 | MontanaQuest River Pines Horse Sanctuary


Emotional Fitness Training for Suicide Prevention and Survivors – A Journey to Well-being through the Way of the Horse, Emotional Fitness Training and Leadership Skills through an experiential learning model with horses.
Registration is Closed

Time & Location

Sep 21, 2019, 9:30 AM – Sep 22, 2019, 5:30 PM
MontanaQuest River Pines Horse Sanctuary, 120 River Pines Rd, Missoula, MT 59804, USA

About the Workshop


Emotional Fitness Training for Suicide Prevention and Survivors – A Journey to Well-being through the Way of the Horse

In this workshop, MontanaQuest Equine Guided Services, provides Emotional Fitness Training and Leadership Skills through an experiential learning model with horses. We've created a program that includes:


social and emotional intelligence 

  • body awareness
  • mindfulness training
  • breathwork
  • leadership training

experiential learning with horses

  • non-riding activities, both active and reflective

personal sustainability skills

  • Social sustainability – creating safety and building social connections
  • Emotional sustainability – to acknowledge and use emotion as information
  • Intellectual sustainability – brain training – learn something new today
  • Spiritual sustainability – understand, develop or deepen a mindfulness and/or spiritual practice
  • Cultural sustainability – awareness of cultural influences – historical and contemporary
  • Creative sustainability – arts, crafts traditions – creativity develops a sense of well-being 
  • Environmental sustainability – nature immersion and preservation

Our program is based on the following:

Sociality and emotional intelligence are innate traits in humans and most other mammalian species. Recent research shows that social and emotional intelligence are more reliable indicators of overall success in life than IQ. We believe that everyone has a right to that success.

The purpose of emotion is to get information from the environment – this is an automatic response at a neurological level - proposed by Darwin in the 1860s and now supported by research beginning in the 1990s. 

Social and cultural pressure to interpret emotion as a sign of weakness has suppressed our ability to appropriately access and employ this innate survival technique leading to increases in undesirable and inappropriate responses to daily life such as anxiety disorders, suicidality, terror, expressed rage and more. Understanding the messages behind both innate and culturally engendered emotions creates opportunities for individuals to interpret and make appropriate responses to their daily life experiences.

Naming and defining emotions provides increased access to social and emotional intelligence, which may be used to create and maintain high functioning, important social settings such as family, work environments, community and government – even on a global level. 

For instance, we (MontanaQuest) define the suicidal urge as the innate emotion that cues us to end a destructive or debilitating aspect of our lives, such as an addiction, relationship, job, or behavior - not our physical life. We combine this knowledge of emotions and their messages with Horse-guided learning experiences to teach coping skills, resiliency training and provide opportunities to practice understanding and strengthening of emotional intelligence. Through understanding the messages behind emotions, building the ability to assess and respond appropriately to emotion, and to coin a horse term - going back to grazing – we become high functioning individuals who move on with life in a state of relaxed and appropriate alertness, safe and connected to others without extreme or inappropriate responses to everyday life like anxiety disorders, suicidality or unjustified rage/terror.

Why horses are important to revitalizing this innate strength in humans is shown by how they demonstrate emotional intelligence in everything they do - they model relationships that demonstrate acceptance, kindness, honesty, tolerance, patience, justice, compassion, and forgiveness; horses have no egos, they never lie, they're never wrong and they manifest unparalleled compassion. They recognize and respond appropriately to incongruence or authenticity, as well as unspoken or unconscious intention - positive or negative. 

A testimonial from one of our participants:


From Diana B. Parnes, M.Div.

The journey that brought me from Spartanburg, South Carolina to Missoula, Montana to participate in MontanaQuest’s Horses for Hope workshop was nothing short of miraculous.

Having recently received the news that someone near and much beloved by me had chosen suicide as an answer to his seemingly unresolvable life issues had left me devastated.  My immediate response was, “could I have made a difference?” and “how could I have made a difference?”.  I was living in the shadow of his pain, raw and emotional, when by sheer coincidence, that is if you believe in coincidences, I received an email from Shari Montana-Founder of MontanaQuest Equine Guided Services and creator of the Horses for Hope program in MIssoula, inviting me to a workshop on suicide awareness and prevention. At first I balked thinking “this is just what I don’t need to do, dredge up the sediment of guilt over this recent tragedy. However, since my M.Div. Concentration was pastoral care and counseling I reconsidered and agreed to participate. The Horses for Hope program was a refreshing change from the dark recitation of the statistics and pathologies behind suicide I had been use to, instead this program focused on hope by building emotional fitness, providing concrete tools through classroom instruction, and best of all the amazing transformational experience of working with horses who have the power to change lives."

 It is this amazing power of horses to heal and teach us about ourselves that makes successful change and personal growth highly accessible for anyone.  Horses inspire all of us to become better selves, better parents and partners, better friends and leaders, and more innately human. 

MontanaQuest has one-day and two-day introductory workshops and 3 or 4 day advanced in depth workshop opportunities, all include QPR Suicidality Intervention skills. 

We would like to join with you to over-come this ominous trend in our families, communities and our state by providing this inspiring opportunity for anyone who has suicide in their vocabulary or world. 

Please call Shari Montana 406 207 6105 for more information, to schedule a workshop for your family and/or team or to register for one of our many programs. Go to: .

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