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Abigail and her horse, the foundation of our program

Our Leadership Team

Board Members

Maggie Sparboe, Chinook Horses Board Member

Maggie Sparboe,

Board President

Owner, Liberty Motors

Martha Fuller, Chinook Horses Board Member

Martha Fuller,

Board Vice President

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana

Adam Decker, Chinook Horses Treasurer of our Board of Directors

Adam Decker,


Briggs Distributing

Josh Hale

Board Member


Ferro, Willett, Thompson, PLLP

Neil Beyer, Chinook Horses Board Member

Neil Beyer

Board Member

REALTOR® | Advisor

ELEPHAS Real Estate Group

Brenda Koch,

Board Member

School Risk Manager, MSGIA

Staff and Facilitators

Abigail Hornik-Minckler, Chinook Horses Founder and Executive 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. 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 earned both her EAGALA certification and has her PATH International certification as a riding instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health. 

Abigail Hornik-Minckler

Founder & Executive Director,

Eagala, Natural Lifemanship


Azlynne Shellman

Development Associate

Azlynne earned her degree in Social Work from Metropolitan State University and brings a wealth of experience and a passion for purposeful work to Chinook Horses. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Azlynne's journey to Billings, Montana, was marked by a serendipitous encounter that led to both personal and professional growth. As a stepmom to the lively Everly and a devoted owner of three dogs, she finds joy in the simple pleasures of family life. With a history in real estate, Azlynne sought a more fulfilling path, ultimately discovering alignment with her values in Chinook Horses—where her love for animals, dedication to mental health, and commitment to helping children and adults thrive through equine therapy converge. 


Carolyn Yegen, M. Ed

Eagala and Natural Lifemanship

Carolyn Yegen earned her Masters in Education in School Counseling from MSU-Billings in 2005. She retired in 2019 from her role as an elementary school counselor, where she led small group counseling sessions and provided individual support for K-5 students. Additionally, Carolyn conducted weekly classroom lessons for around 350 students, concentrating on social, emotional, and behavioral skills. We're honored to have her as a teacher and co-facilitator for our new Leadership Development class, as she focuses on equipping all students with a shared language to advocate for themselves and express their mental health needs. Her exceptional work earned her the 2018 Montana Counselor of the Year Award.

Kelly Melius, Specialized Education Professional, Chinook Facilitator

Kelly Melius

Specialized Education Professional, Eagala

Kelly is instrumental in developing programming for participants with autism and learning differences. As a Licensed and Certified PLAY (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters)Project and Autism Specialist with over 15 years of experience, she's adept at working with individuals diagnosed with Autism and other special needs. Also a certified EAGALA specialist professional, Kelly is passionate about helping individuals on the autism spectrum achieve their fullest potential. Kelly also has a private practice through her organization, Blue Kangaroo Autism Connection Center.

Kyanne Wear LCSW, Chinook Horses Facilitator

Kyanne Wear,

LCSW Eagala and Natural Lifemanship

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. overall goal is to help people reach their full potential and be the happiest and healthiest person they can be.

Shannon Hodge Shirley, Chinook Facilitator

Growing up on a farm with horses, Chinook Horses co-facilitator Shannon Hodge-Shirley understood the therapeutic potential of horses. In 2016, she got involved with equine-assisted therapy through Chinook Horses when founder Abigail Hornik-Minckler posted a call for counselors on a mental health Facebook page. With her mental health and addiction counseling background, Shannon reached out and joined the Chinook Horses team, becoming a vital member.

Shannon Hodge Shirley,


Natural Lifemanship

Stephanie Melmer LCSW, Chinook Facilitator

Stephanie, a licensed clinical therapist since 2013, has been active in the mental health field since 2005. Specializing in trauma reprocessing, she employs techniques from transpersonal therapy, EMDR, and Equine Assisted Therapy. Her clients span from adolescence to adults and she operates through various avenues including private practice, the Employee Assistance Program at Billings Clinic, and contracting with Chinook Horses - a cause close to her heart. Raised with a profound appreciation for animals, particularly horses, Stephanie gained her EAGALA certification in July 2021.

Stephanie Melmer,


Eagala and Natural Lifemanship

Indigo Moon, Chinook Horse

Indigo Moon

Spanish Mustang with

an attitude

Vivi, Indigo Moon, Chinook Horse
Schmoozle, Paint Pony


Paint Pony



Fawn, Chinook Horse


Palomino Pony aka Surfer Girl

Bunny Baby, Chinook Horse

Bunny Baby

Paint Pony alias Bully Baby


Sully and Jeb

Mini Donkeys

Chinook Horse Mavis
Bojangles,Chinook Horse


Quarter Horse


Sassy Black Pony

Joker, Chinook Horse


Quarter Horse

Lightning, Chinook Horse


Paint Pony

Honey, Chinook Horse





Miniature Horse

The Herd
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