To provide opportunities for individuals and families to engage, learn and thrive outside of the classroom and traditional therapeutic environments by practicing equine assisted activities.
Abigail Hornik, Founder & Director
She hails from New York City where she had a career in online advertising and marketing. Abigail came to Montana in 2001 to breed Spanish Mustangs and work with children on the Blackfeet Reservation. A year later, she met her husband, a native Montanan. For 8 years, she owned and designed for her high end home accessories company, WesternWare Goods with an equine theme appearing in the majority of her product line. She closed the company in 2013. In 2014, she returned to her original passion and belief that horses are remarkable creatures and make amazing partners in healing and improving people’s lives. She pursued and earned both her EAGALA certification and has her PATH International certification as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health. Abigail owns two horses and loves to do dressage in her free time.
Kelly Melius, Specialized Education Professional
Kelly has been key in developing our programming for our clientele with autism and learning differences. She is a Licensed and Certified PLAY (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project and Autism Specialist. Kelly has over 15 years experience working with individuals diagnosed with Autism and other special needs. She is a certified EAGALA specialized professional and has a passion for supporting children and adults on the autism spectrum to reach their fullest potential.
Carolyn Yegen, M.Ed School Counseling
Carolyn Yegen earned her Masters of Education in School Counseling from Montana State University-Billings in 2005. Before retiring in 2019 from her position as an elementary school counselor, she facilitated small group counseling sessions and provided one-on-one support for k-5th grade students. Additionally, Carolyn taught an average of 350 students during weekly classroom lessons on social, emotional, and behavioral skills such as anger management, problem solving, friendship skills, and empathy. We are honored to have her as a teacher and co-facilitator for our new Leadership Development class! Carolyn believes in educating all students with a common language to advocate for themselves and articulate their mental health needs. Her work to help students cope with their problems earned her the 2018 Montana School Counselor of the Year Award.
Erin Bratsky, LCSW
Erin Bratsky joined up with us to facilitate sessions last summer. She is the owner and a therapist of Brighter Sky Counseling, in Billings, Montana. She considers it an honor and a privilege to hear the stories of pain and recovery, sorrow and triumph, healing and growth. She received a Master of Social Work at the University of New England in Portland, Maine. In 2007 she returned to her home state of Montana to practice therapy. For 10 years she has worked with individuals and families in a variety of settings including schools, residential programs, outpatient programs and therapeutic wilderness programs.
Kyane Wear, LCSW
Kyane graduated from Montana State University, Billings in 2000 with a BS in Psychology, and Walla Walla University, Billings in 2004 with her Masters in Clinical Social Work. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2010. She has gained her experience through providing case management services, individual, group and family therapy at mental health agencies in the Billings and surrounding areas. She branched out into private practice in 2015 and joined Chinook Horses as a co-facilitator in January 2016. She is a certified EAGALA mental health practitioner. Her experience and supplemental training has primarily focused on working with youth and families addressing concerns with Depression, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Oppositional Defiance, Impulse Control Disorders and parenting concerns. After experiencing first hand the power in Equine Assisted Therapy she is expanding her training in this area. The basis of her therapeutic approach is Person-Centered and Strength Based, however, she makes adjustments along the way to meet the needs of the individual(s) and families she is working with. Her overall goal is to help people reach their full potential and be the happiest and healthiest person they can be. She often tries to set goals and expectations high for clients, but never higher than she truly believes they can achieve.
Kate Van Slyck, M.A. Special Education - AmeriCorps VISTA
Kate Van Slyck received her master’s degree in Special Education from George Washington University in Washington, DC and has taught a variety of grades from preschool to middle school over the past 18 years. Prior to becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA member, Kate served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand with her husband. She was an English teacher in a primary school in northern Thailand. Kate has also served in many volunteer positions, including PTA chair of an Arlington, Virginia high school, outdoor education specialist, and served on school-based committees to improve lives of children in her community. She anticipates she will use her background in special education, community outreach, grant writing, and public speaking in her work as part of the team at Chinook Horses. Kate vividly remembers her first encounter with a horse and overcoming her fear of them when she was in preschool. She and her husband have two sons in Virginia who will visit and see the wonderful work of Chinook Horses.
Kendyl Robertson - AmeriCorps VISTA
Kendyl Robertson, originally from Asheville, NC, graduated from Mars Hill University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance. She is serving Chinook Horses as an AmeriCorps VISTA this year, and she is thrilled to be here! Prior to her service, Kendyl spent much of her time outside of the classroom teaching and working with middle and high school musicians, and volunteering at a nonprofit in Asheville that provides services to children on the autism spectrum and their families. She looks forward to engaging with a new community and increasing access to services while serving at Chinook Horses. Kendyl has always had a love for horses and recalls many horseback riding trips with her friends throughout her childhood.
Board of Directors
- Abigail Hornik, Executive Director, PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, EAGALA Certified
- Kelly Melius, President, Licensed and Certified in PLAY Project and Autism (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters)
- Martha Fuller Stahl, Vice President, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana
- Abby Reno, Secretary, Proprietor, City Vineyard
- Margarita A. Sparboe, Board Member, Business Owner, Grandparent