Our Story

Heart of Horse Sense is a nonprofit supporting Veterans and At-Risk Youth in Western North Carolina through equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning.

Founded in 2014, Heart of Horse Sense (HOHS) helps equine therapy organizations in WNC respond to the demand for equine therapy with quality, trauma-informed programming, offering funding to those that meet our criteria and standards in serving Veterans and At-Risk Youth. Heart of Horse Sense screens and supports equine therapy programs, ensuring the clinical proficiency for clients and the ethical treatment of horses. Heart of Horse Sense is a fundraising and program screening/vetting organization, without direct client services. Heart of Horse Sense's office is located at Meadows Town Ranch.



  • Since 2014, we have helped over 1500 veterans and 220 youth.

  • HOHS has funded programs in Marshall, Weaverville and Tryon

  • We are developing organizations in Rutherford, Haywood and Henderson Counties to provide services in 2019 and beyond.

  • Similar to Therapeutic Riding, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning utilizes the unique gifts of horses for the benefits of humans.

  • Different than Therapeutic Riding, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning is a social, emotional and mental health intervention that may or may not include any riding.

  • It is an experiential approach, supporting a holistic brain-body connection.

Our History

Meadows Town Ranch was formed in 2000 by Richard and Shannon Knapp as a horse ranch offering rehabilitation for “throw-away” and abused/rescued horses. Meadows Town Ranch also offers Natural Horsemanship training & development for horses and humans. Meadows Town grows its own hay, and Richard offers trainings for those interested in Natural Horsemanship approaches.


Horse Sense of the Carolinas (2003) grew out of Shannon’s recognition that many of the rescued horses they were working with might never be “issue-free” rideable, backyard horses, but that they still deserved a permanent, loving home, a place to heal and a gentle hand. At about the same time, Shannon was learning about the incredible power of horses to heal humans with various mental, social, emotional and spiritual issues. Hence Horse Sense of the Carolinas was born, a “for-profit” that employs multiple mental health professionals and horse specialists to provide therapy and learning for people through interacting with horses.

Through Horse Sense, Shannon, Richard and the Horse Sense team have thousands of hours experience providing services for a wide range of populations, collaborating with many local schools, treatment centers and wilderness therapy programs, including the Department of Juvenile Justice, Swannanoa Youth Development Center, and the Governor's Crime Commission. Horse Sense is funded by all of these orgs through private pay, contracts for services, mental health insurance billing, as well as Fiscal Sponsorships and Grants.

Horse Sense receives some nonprofit dollars from Heart of Horse Sense, although it is not the only organization to do so. Horse Sense serves on average 2000 clients a year, in groups and in individual therapy. Horse Sense rents the arenas, horses and facility from Meadows Town to offer direct client services. Horse Sense of the Carolinas is grateful to offer services free of charge to veterans and at-risk youth in conjunction with Heart of Horse Sense.