Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Mustangs and MOHR, Inc.: Therapeutic Horsemanship Program

Mustangs and MOHR, Inc. is non‐profit that rescues formerly wild horses and retrains them to work with at‐risk youth from the local community through its Therapeutic Horsemanship Program (THP). Designed for system-involved youth aged 10 to 17 years, THP expands on practices associated with equine-assisted psychotherapy in culturally relevant ways. Hands-on, open air activities aim to promote increased feelings of trust, compassion, self-awareness, and confidence, as well as enhanced self-regulation and sense of responsibility among young people. Such factors are believed to be protective and to offset risk for substance abuse and related consequences such as suicide.

The THP curriculum has been approved by tribal elders and the Oregon State Addictions and Mental Health Division as part of its Tribal Best Practices initiative. Local providers have been referring their Native American and non-native clients for several years to THP and have expressed satisfaction with the results.

Through participation in SAMHSA’s Service to Science, THP representatives developed an evaluation plan that not only incorporated current activities, but also more rigorous, methodologically sound ideas. With support from the SAMHSA’s Service to Science Subcontract to Build Evaluation Capacity for Evidence-based Interventions, THP plans to enhance current evaluation activities by:

  • including reliable and valid measures of substance abuse risk and protective factors that the program addresses, as well as a measure of suicidal tendencies, in the youth questionnaires (implemented before and after participation in THP)
  • replacing oral reporting of youth attendance, participation, and behaviors with written documentation
  • corroborating youth self-report with the addition of a pre- and post-implementation stakeholder questionnaire that assesses youth behaviors
  • hiring outside evaluation expertise to train staff on data collection procedures
  • adding a Tribal/Community Advisory Council to provide feedback on evaluation protocols, study design, and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data and final report



Debbie Driesner
Mustangs and MOHR, Inc.
400 North Kings Valley Highway
Dallas, Oregon 97338
Phone: (503) 623-8430

Vikki Vandiver
Lead Evaluator
School of Social Work
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland, Oregon 97207
Phone: (503) 725-4712

John Spence
NW Indian Training Associates
P.O. Box 3443
Salem, Oregon 97302
Phone: (503) 871-4299