Berkshire HorseWorks Secures 501(C)3 Nonprofit Status

FROM: Berkshire HorseWorks, Inc., EAGALA Certified Program

CONTACT: Hayley Sumner,, (413) 698-3700



Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)  Highly Effective in Treatment of Those with Mental and Behavioral Challenges Ranging From ADHD, Autism, Addiction, Depression, and Trauma to Resiliency, Effective Communication, and Reintegration

Richmond, MA , 2014 –In an effort to provide EAGALA Model Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) to a greater number of those in need in Berkshire County and neighboring cities, Berkshire HorseWorks™ (BHW) secured its nonprofit 501(C)3 designation. Hayley Sumner, Founder and Executive Director, first launched the organization in 2013 as a for profit entity. Since its inception, BHW has been treating at-risk youth, veterans, families, individuals, and couples with a broad range of challenges including anxiety, PTSD, bullying, and eating disorders. BHW, in sessions with clients, uses rescue horses that are either retired from racing, injured, traumatized, or otherwise handicapped. In addition, BHW partners with local and national organizations to strengthen their workforces through team building and personal wellness initiatives. Clients have included Hillcrest Educational Center, Pittsfield Juvenile Resource Center, The John Dewey Academy, Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, Darrow School, Berkshire Functional Fitness, ARK Media, and Fox Sports Network, among others.

The statistics are compelling;

  • 15% of high school seniors nationwide have reported non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past year. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • In Berkshire County 60% of high school seniors have reported the abuse of alcohol, while a reported 35% have abused marijuana in the past year, (Berkshire United Way).
  • Post Traumatic Stress afflicts one-quarter of the troops returning from the Middle East, or about 300,000 men and women, (The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).
  • At least 22 veterans commit suicide each day, (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).
  • One in three businesses fail within their first year. The team building exercise creates cohesiveness, (Twomey and Kleiner, 1996).

“I am a cancer survivor and horse lover.  I have witnessed the pervasiveness and potentially life threatening impact of drug use, depression, and PTSD in this community.  This is what drove me to start this venture. While financially challenging, I felt I had no choice. We work with disconnected families, traumatized adolescents, and brave soldiers as they reintegrate into family life, the workplace and the community when they return from deployment. Their ability to pay for these services is irrelevant,” reports Sumner.

Army Sgt. Robert Shove, a veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan stated, “This program has made me whole, like there is hope. I have been through many types of therapy, as I suffer from TBI and PTSD. This was the first time out of any other therapy that it seemed to work. I recommend it for any veteran or military person who has gone through combat or who is suffering from trauma. The connection that I got with the other vets and the horses in the program saved me.”

Sessions take place on the ground (no riding), are facilitated by both a Licensed Mental Health Professional and a qualified Equine Specialist, are solution-focused and follow a stringent code of ethics.  BHW has been practicing this model in the Berkshires for over a year, and with its newly designated nonprofit status, has gained the ability to reach a broader demographic through fundraising and grant initiatives, including tax-deductible donations.

According to Robert Goodman, a father whose family of five engaged in a team building session, “The kids have not stopped talking about it; BHW made us feel very close to each other. My wife, a psychologist, is convinced that EAGALA is such a helpful tool.”

The utilization of rescue horses, some of which are “cribbers” who get high from chewing wood, is highly effective in metaphorical learning with clients who have eating disorders, addiction, PTSD, and more.

BHW is located in a bucolic 27 acre compound in Richmond, MA comprising the Berkshire Equestrian Center, hiking trails, outdoor paddocks, historic barns, state of the art jumping facilities, the Inn at Richmond, and a wellness center. The facility has the flexibility to provide corporate retreats for businesses that invest in their employees through programs focused on teamwork, problem-solving, cultural diversity, empathy, and productivity. Berkshire HorseWorks™ team building sessions take participants out of their offices and into the arena with equines. By incorporating horses into team building workshops, employees are afforded the opportunity to engage in innovative thinking and gain insight into the dynamics of their group.

Dom Sacco, EAGALA certified Mental Health Professional and lead adjustment counselor at Monument Mountain Middle School states, “The facility offers a high degree of flexibility, making it conducive for clients to explore their management styles while at the same time, creating an intimate setting for individual work.”

Despite the high costs of the team approach mandated by The Model, lease fees (for the facility), and general costs of horse ownership, BHW has always offered services on a sliding scale to those most in need. With the newly designated nonprofit status, funds raised by the 501(C)3 could soften that impact.


Ways to get Involved: Click Here

Your generous donations will go toward covering any of the following.

  • Sponsor a family in need for a 90 minute session…………….………..$425
    • or an eight week program…………………….…………..…….$3,400
  • Sponsor an at-risk child for a series of eight Equine Assisted Learning or Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions………………..………………………$1,800
    • or a single 60 minute session……………………………………$225
  • Sponsor a Horse Powered Veteran for eight Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions…………………………………………………………………….$1,200
  • Sponsor a horse and his…mix and match with what you can give…anything is appreciated.
  Monthly Annually
Hay & Grain $150 $1,800
Foot care with Shoes $90 (every six weeks) $780
Foot care without shoes $40 (every 6 weeks) $350
Boarding $850 $10,200
Vaccinations N/A $200
Dental N/A $200
Total: $13,530 per horse

Visit our Support Us page to learn about other opportunities including volunteering, internships and more.

Berkshire HorseWorks™, a 501(C)3 nonprofit corporation, is part of the international EAGALA network of 4,500 certified professionals in 50 countries providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) to at-risk youth, veterans, active duty, their families  and corporations.  Experiential, highly effective, and rooted in evidence-based practices, EAP treats a broad array of mental and behavioral challenges. EAL incorporates Equine Assisted Team building by partnering with school districts, local businesses, and international corporations to enhance personal development and reinforce group dynamics in the workplace.  Services are offered seven days a week during individual sessions, workshops and wellness retreats. Through the power of horses, Berkshire HorseWorks™ provides the tools to cope, challenge, communicate, heal, lead, empathize and thrive in today’s competitive world.

For more information, please visit or call Hayley Sumner at (413) 698-3700.