Submitted by HAPI Trails
This piece was originally published in the March 24, 2016 issue of the Teton Valley News as part of the weekly Nonprofit Spotlight presented by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley.
Seven years, 55 horses, 430 plus members, 6 parades, 6 trail challenges, 3 HAPI Hours, 6 Tin Cup Challenges, 1 Derby Day and over $150,000 later, HAPI Trails is still going strong, thanks to your generous donations and support! We remain a 100% volunteer organization, established to ensure a safe haven for abandoned, abused and neglected horses. We are committed to permanently placing unwanted horses with compatible new owners.
When HAPI Trails began in 2009, we all had big hopes and dreams for the organization, and the help we could provide to horses in need. We have achieved many of those dreams: placing 31 horses in loving homes, providing care and rehabilitation for neglected or abused horses. Helping community members who needed a little ‘extra help’ to keep the horses they loved, and assisting law enforcement when a call came in. Seven years later, we still have high hopes and dreams, goals to achieve, and programs to start or grow. It’s all a labor of love for us, and one we will continue until the need to help has abated.
As a nonprofit, we receive incredible support from other local nonprofits and community members as well as the Community Foundation of Teton Valley. Advice, guidance, encouragement and workshops that help improve our management, grant writing and fund raising skills. With each of these encounters we are asked, “What’s HAPI Trails story?” Every good nonprofit has to have a story, right?
This question always stumps us. What story do we tell? We have so many!
Most recently, two HAPI Trails board members became certified as Equine Assisted Growth and Learning (EAGALA) practitioners to offer people within the community therapeutic emotional growth, learning and psychotherapy options previously unavailable in Teton Valley. EAGALA and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experientially for emotional growth and learning. It is a collaborative effort between a mental health professional, a horse professional working with clients and horses to address learning goals. This is a new program for HAPI Trails, and we hope to have an impact on individual mental health, personal development or learning; thereby benefitting the community as a whole. No previous equine experience is required for potential clients to participate.
Should we tell the story of how we got started…With a very pregnant mare needing a new home? Or about the mare that came to us so emaciated that the people who originally rescued her had to pull her foal out with a chain because she didn’t have the energy or ability to push it out on her own? Or what about the 72 year old man who cried whole heartedly because of his own failing health, he could no longer keep the horse he had for 30 years? Or the one about a horse that was left behind when her family moved away? Or the truly impressive gelding that was found in the mountains after a month of being lost with a pack saddle still strapped to its back, and because of his injuries he couldn’t return home?
We have so many more on how the horses came to us… But we also have the happier stories. The ones where a potential adopter walks into our pasture looking to adopt a particular horse, just to have another horse walk up to them and never leave their side – the horse chose them; wonderfully giving the adopter no other option. Or the one where a woman, searching for a horse she had seen in distress years earlier, later finds it in our care and adopts it. Or the one where a 9 year old boy got the horribly abused mare for his birthday and she covered him with drooling and loving kisses, and did so until the day she passed, years later.
If you think about it, we have at least 55 unique stories to tell, 110 if you add the story of how the horse and/or people are doing today. We could probably add another 15 to 20 stories of other horses we’ve helped find homes or assisted with their care, and at least another 60 about our volunteers or events we’ve hosted, or friends we’ve made. And then there are the stories of people, who have no ties to us or to the horses, who chose to donate on our behalf, just because they like what we do.
So you can see why this question of “HAPI Trails’ story” always stumps us. What story would you want to hear?
And how long do you have to listen?
Want to be a part of the HAPI Trails story? Please give us a call at 877.354.HAPI (4274) or visit www.hapitrails.org, and we’ll make the introductions.
Help us share Why It Matters! If you are affiliated with a Teton Valley nonprofit, we want to hear from you! Each week, the Community Foundation will highlight a local nonprofit in the pages of the Teton Valley News. Email Dawn Banks, Marketing and Programs Director, at [email protected] or call 208.354.0230. We look forward to helping share your story! You can continue the conversation on social media using #WhyItMatters.