Contact Information

Melissa Gerard,
Collabria Care
(707) 815-6258
to enroll in an upcoming workshop or to support this program.

Lindsay Merget
Sunrise Horse Rescue
to learn more about Equine-Assisted Learning and Healing Programs 

Nancy Schier Anzelmo
Connected Horse
to learn more about the Connected Horse program and where it is offered.

Monica Stevens,
Jameson Humane
to learn more about the Animal Assisted Healing program at Jameson Humane and for those interested in supporting the program.


Collabria Care

Collabria Care was founded as Hospice of Napa Valley in 1979. For over 40 years, we’ve proudly served the Napa Valley—providing community-based care and education for those facing a serious illness, Alzheimer’s, or the end of life. In 2018, we became a part of Providence, a non-profit health system. With our combined knowledge on aging and best practices, Collabria and Providence collaborate to adapt and expand our services to meet the specific needs of our community.


Connected Horse

The Connected Horse offers human-animal connection and engagement programs, tools and products that encourage and support individuals living with memory loss, care partners and professionals. It is focused on offering equine guided workshops that provide the opportunity for people living with early-stage dementia and their care partners to be together as they experience non-riding activities with horses. The power of the human-horse connection helps participants not only feel relaxed, confidant and happy in the moment, they also learn about self-compassion, stress reduction strategies and communication and awareness practices. To learn more about Connected Horse Project visit


Jameson Humane

Jameson Humane is an impact-driven nonprofit organization in Napa Valley that collaborates and educates to inspire change in animal welfare, not only in local communities, but around the world. Monica and David Stevens founded Jameson Humane in 2014 as a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization to improve animal welfare through global collaboration and education for the benefit of all life. The organization was named in memory of the Stevens’ beloved dog Jameson, an adopted Great Pyrenees who lived to the age of 14 and inspired the spirit and mission.


Sunrise Horse Rescue

Sunrise Horse Rescue has been providing life-saving services and resources to horses and their owners in and around Napa County since 2007. Their mission is to rescue and provide sanctuary for abused and neglected horses in Napa and surrounding counties, educate the public about current issues affecting horse welfare, and provide community members with the unique benefit of equine assisted learning and therapy.

Joint Press Release

Community Nonprofits Collaborate to Provide Animal Assisted Healing to Those Suffering from Memory Loss,
Dementia, and Alzheimer’s

Collabria Care, Connected Horse, Jameson Humane, and Sunrise Horse Rescue Bring Animal Assisted Healing to Napa County Community

Napa, CA (July 25, 2022) – Three Napa County nonprofits, Collabria Care, Jameson Humane, and Sunrise Horse Rescue join efforts along with equine-assisted healing program, Connected Horse, to provide support to the Napa County population suffering from memory loss, including early-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s. Two successful pilot workshops took place in Napa County over April and June, supported by the Elke’s Foundation and Collabria Care for those living with dementia and their care partners, over three weeks each. Collabria Care is Napa’s Alzheimer’s Day Care Resource Center and with this designation, it is supporting the program by identifying and screening Napa County community members. Additional workshops will be offered in September and October, by appointment. Spanish translation is offered.


Connected Horse provides human-horse connection workshops for people living with early-stage dementia and their care partners. Both Jameson Humane and Sunrise Horse Rescue, two of Napa County’s acclaimed animal sanctuaries and horse rescues, saw an opportunity to work with the community to provide individuals in need and their caregivers, as well as the resident horses at each location, an opportunity for healing. The interest in the therapeutic effects of human-animal interaction is gaining momentum as these workshops see positive outcomes with a variety of populations. “Sunrise Horse Rescue has been working on bringing this program to the community for several years. We are thrilled to have been able to partner with our fellow non-profits in the Valley, and officially launch this life-impacting experience for our local community,” says, Lisa O’Connor, Sunrise Horse Rescue.


Connected Horse is actively involved in Alzheimer’s research, including early work with the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Center for Equine Health to study the effects of its equine-guided activities to further understand and develop programs that benefit everyone involved.


“We believe that when someone receives a diagnosis of dementia, there is an opening, an opportunity to activate hope and action, versus despair and isolation. We know from many studies that engagement and lifestyle play an important part in health and wellness. The equine-assisted workshops we offer build on that knowledge with opportunities to benefit from the human and animal bond, nonverbal communication skills, and awareness and mindfulness practices,” says Paula Hertel, Connected Horse Co-Founder.


“It definitely makes changes in people. Sometimes it’s the person living with dementia, sometimes it’s the care partner, sometimes it’s both,” says Bart Atkinson, Connected Horse Facilitator.


“Being with horses allows people to feel what they are often unable to articulate with words. The interactions help to maintain quality of life and gain relief from isolation, stress, and loss of connection for people affected by dementia and their care partner. We’ve seen people start their bucket lists, travel, do things together. We’ve seen intimacy in relationships heal. It’s just amazing, and it’s all because of the horses; because they’re our teachers,” says Nancy Schier Anzelmo, Connected Horse Co-Founder.


For over 40 years, Collabria Care has proudly served the Napa Valley – providing community-based healthcare and education for those facing a serious illness, Alzheimer’s disease, or the end of life. It has grown into an impact-driven nonprofit organization with more than 125 employees and 130 volunteers serving Napa County and its surrounding communities. Its award-winning programs are created to respond to the current and future needs of the community, specifically for the aging population.


“The opportunity to provide our Collabria Care community – the individuals living with dementia and their care partners alike – this innovative and therapeutic program, is something that was immediately compelling to our team. We strive to not only support real opportunities for healing and growth for the individuals but also for their relationship and journeys together,” says, Jill Wood MSW, Program Director and Social Services Manager at Collabria Care.


The equine-assisted healing program provides healing and enrichment for the horses as well. Jameson Humane and Sunrise Horse Rescue are both unique to the Connected Horse program in that the horses taking part are rescued horses living their lives in sanctuary, free from exploitation or work, versus trained riding and working horses, which are the more typical participants within the Connected Horse workshops. “It was really eye-opening and magical to see our horses take on a new purpose in this program,” says, Loren Crow, Equine Manager at Jameson Humane. “I am grateful for programs like this that help both humans and horses,” adds a care partner and participant in the program.


“Programs like this really help raise awareness and show people that there is so much value that horses bring, well beyond their days as a riding partner. Horses live in the present moment, which is what makes them so good for these kinds of therapy programs. All a horse has to do is take a deep breath, or catch your eye, and you’re brought back to the present moment. Interacting with these half-ton animals requires people to be instinctively present and not distracted by the constant noise and stress in their minds. It’s like automatic mindfulness, a way to get out of one’s head and into the body and heart, which is good for everyone,” says Lindsay Merget, Program Director of Sunrise Horse Rescue. The horses involved are not ridden, but are available to be close to observe, to touch, if they are interested, and to be groomed.


The equine-assisted healing program opens the door for greater animal-assisted healing programs for myriad populations such as, at-risk youth groups, cancer patients and their care partners, special needs individuals, corporate leadership, and personal development programs, first responders, trauma patients, veterans, addiction recovery patients, domestic violence survivors, people living with mental health challenges, those who are grieving, and more.


Jameson Humane’s annual fundraiser, WineaPAWlooza, raised funds for their Animal Assisted Healing program, which includes equine-assisted healing, and expands to all species living at the sanctuary and additional sectors of the population in need. “We, as a nation and a community, have experienced years of profound challenges. Animal Assisted Healing is a novel response to the turbulence of last several years and what our community is most critically in need of – healing. We would be remiss if we did not notice the state of our heavy, collective mental health. On top of the isolation, stress, and hardship felt during the pandemic, our nation has seen social and cultural strife, and disasters varying in severity due to the climate crisis. If you are not suffering, surely, you are close to someone who is or has been. We are addressing this critical need with our Animal Assisted Healing program which works with all sectors of our population, nationally, and is also enriching for our animals while in sanctuary,” says Monica Stevens, Co-Founder and President of Jameson Humane.


The equine-assisted Connected Horse program resumes in September and October in Napa and Calistoga.


Workshops are 2.5 hours, once a week, for 2 weeks.

  • No prior experience with horses is necessary to participate.
  • Participants will be engaging with horses from the ground, no riding.
  • All participants must be ambulatory and willing to participate together.
  • There is no fee to participate, donations accepted.