NEAR ULM — Spirit Horses Of Montana, located just northwest of Ulm in Cascade County, uses horses as therapy to help people with mental health issues, primarily veterans.
While finding it on a map is easy enough, getting there is a different story because of the rough road leading into the property. Thankfully, though, that could soon change.
"I developed a specialized horsemanship integration program for stress reduction as a way to make mental health processes work better, and they do. I started focusing on veterans," Spirit Horses Of Montana owner Roberta Cross Guns explained. "I have four nephews, all veterans. Some of them have had some pretty tough experiences.”
But Cross Guns is having a tough experience of her own. The dirt road leading into the property is filled with numerous deep, long ruts making the road hard to use, especially when it's wet.
"I wouldn't have anyone out here when it's wet because they're going to wind up in the ditch. It's like driving on ice. "You can't do anything about it, so it's got to be built up. We've got to have it,” Cross Guns said.
Cross Guns has started a GoFundMe account to raise $10,000 to purchase gravel to cover the road. The nearby Hutterite colony has offered to put the gravel down when she gets it.
The horses have been a big help for Cheryl Snider. "I have PTSD. I was a child protective investigator for many years back in Florida and had a lot of child deaths and I have trauma from that."
Snider is learning to work with the horses as she pursues a graduate degree in social work. "To be able to see if I can, in the future, help in this endeavor to help other people with the horses,” Snider said.
"I've developed this thing where we start on one side. You're going to think about all the good, positive things in your life and when you get to the other side you're going to give this horse whatever's bothering you," Cross Guns said.
"People engage in it and they do it. I was kind of surprised. It seemed so simple, and it really is really simple, but it's also, really, very powerful when people can connect like that with another, essentially, sentient being," Cross Guns concluded.
The GoFundMe page, which was created by a friend, states:
Spirit Horses was created in 2003, starting its work with veterans, families, and children, then expanded to include contracted work with ex-convict clients who struggle with mental health. In the Fall of 2012, Spirit Horses moved to its forever home in Ulm, Montana where the acreage is vast, but the landscape is rugged. To get to Spirit Horses, you need to travel down the main road in Ulm and up a private 3+mile dirt road. Roberta has managed to maintain the road the best she can, but the wild elements of the plains has occasionally made the road treacherous for anyone without a big truck. She finally has an opportunity to get the road repaired and maintained, through a generous offer of a neighbor, BUT, this is where we need YOUR help.
If you don’t want to donate via GoFundMe, you can also donate on the Spirit Horses Of Montana website.