News & Events

RAIN OR SHINE. The Rendezvous & Carnival is ON!

Rain or Shine, the Saturday, October 7th Rendezvous & Carnival is on! This is no problem for us at the Ranch. We have a great big arena that can hold the carnival games, silent auction, animals, crafts and more!

Get the kids out of the house and into the Arena for a fun day at H.O.P.E. Ranch!

Admission is free and there’s plenty of free parking. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 7th
10 am – 3 pm
At The H.O.P.E. Ranch

Ability Building Center to Hold: Celebrating Abilities 2017 with Special Screening of Award Winning Movie “Learning to Drive”

What: Celebrating Abilities 2017 with Special Screening of Award-Winning Short Film: Learning to Drive
When & Where: Sept. 16, Noon at Century High School, Rochester, MN
Admission to the Event: Free 
Movie Admission:  $10.

Ability Building Center (ABC) will hold the first annual Celebrating Abilities at Century High School on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The event features activities for all ages, including a special screening of the award-winning short film, “Learning to Drive.”

“Too often we hear what persons with disabilities cannot do. With Celebrating Abilities we wanted to focus on the amazing things they can do and are doing each day,” said Bruce Remme, ABC Executive Director. “The event offers a fun way for the whole family to learn more about the remarkable achievements of these individuals and the immense contributions they make to our communities.”

Doors open to the public at noon on Saturday, with food and beverages from local restaurants, face-painting and henna booths, a driving simulator challenge, games, success stories, displays, raffles, a silent auction and more.

Guests will have the opportunity to have photos taken with the cast and crew of “Learning to Drive” as well as Miss Minnesota USA International 2017, Rochester’s own Zoey Jantsan.

Admission to the event is free. Tickets to the film screening are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Admission to the after-party with director and cast is $25. Tickets can be purchased online at All proceeds go to enriching the lives of persons with disabilities in the community. 

A highlight of this year’s event is a special screening of “Learning to Drive,” beginning at 4:00 pm in the Century Auditorium. This heartwarming, upbeat film tells the story of two brothers, one with Down syndrome, who embark a road trip to take their mother’s ashes to the Grand Canyon.

The film has been screened at numerous festivals and has won several awards. Director Roderick E. Stevens, II and lead actor Connor Long will be present to introduce the film and answer questions. Guests can spend more time with both at an exclusive after-party beginning at 6:30 pm.

Celebrating Abilities is made possible through the generous support of gold-level sponsor Think Mutual Bank, silver-level sponsors Minnesota Autism Center, Minnesota 97.5 FM and the Sadler family, and nine bronze-level sponsors.


Lance Laack
Communications Coordinator
Ability Building Center (ABC)
1911 14th Street, NW
Rochester, MN 55901
(507) 535-7120



FREE Admission! FREE Parking! 
Sat. Oct. 7-10am-3pm
Carnival Games, Prizes Galore
Silent Auction
Petting Zoo & Horse Grooming
Bake Sale
Twisted Pizza Wagon
Proceeds go to client scholarships & animal care

Interested in Volunteering? Click Below To Sign Up:
Call 507-281-3033 or follow this link to sign up:

Planning Your Corporate Retreat? Attend this FREE DEMO First

Session #1:
Rescheduled for: (July Session rescheduled for: Thursday, August 17, 2017 from 6:30 pm-8:00 pm)
This Session is a Horse Powered Learning Demo.

Session #2:
Saturday, August 26, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 am.

Just like a sports team, your staff must take the time to huddle up, attend training camp, practice, and rehab. Even with great leaders, a team only immersed in the mundane daily activities will experience dysfunction. Your team needs this critical team building time to rebuild and come out winning.

H.O.P.E. Ranch is a unique and effective choice for your next team building or corporate development retreat that incorporates the EAGALA EQUINE ASSISTED DEVELOPMENT MODEL. Your team experiences activities performed around or with horses. After each exercise, your team is lead through a discussion facilitated by an EAGALA certified specialist. There’s no riding and it’s completely safe.

If you plan corporate or team building retreats for your company we invite you to attend one of our FREE demos. This is a 2-hour session that allows you to experience firsthand how this unique approach results in a recognizable change in team dynamics for staff, supervisors and company leaders.

Reserve a spot at one of our upcoming FREE DEMOS by calling 507-281-3033 or emailing us.

Session #1:
Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Session #2:
Saturday, August 26, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 am


The 2017 H.O.P.E. Ranch Rendezvous and Carnival will take place Saturday, October 7th from 10 am – 3 pm.

This is a fun-filled day for kids and adults and we are looking for volunteers to help with the activities.

There are many ways to participate, either the day of or prepping for the event.

We need people to run the carnival games, silent auction, crafts area, face painting & more. Grab a buddy if you’d like. We take pairs of volunteers.

Click here to check out the possible jobs and/or to sign up!

This event has grown by leaps and bounds. We promise a fun time! The event is held at H.O.P.E Ranch and admission and parking is free. The best part is, this is a fundraiser. All proceeds go for client scholarships and animal care.

To volunteer: click this link.
Or call us at 507-281-3033.

Mental Illness Facts: Get Educated During Mental Health Awareness Month

Author: Kit Muellner,  LICSW, EAGALA Certified and CEO of H.O.P.E. Ranch

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States and has been observed in this country since 1949. Special attention is given and activities occur during the month. Awareness about mental illness is brought to the public reaching millions of people through the media, local events, and screenings.

The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to educate the public about mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. This includes symptoms and possible treatments for these illnesses.

Conversations about the realities of living with mental illness take place and strategies are shared for dealing with it. Additionally, discussions about and exercises for attaining and maintaining mental health and wellness become a part of the month’s activities.

Bringing attention to suicide is also a part of Mental Health Awareness Month as mental illness can contribute to suicide attempts in both adults and youths.

Knowledge is power. The more educated the public is about mental health issues, the better the outcomes. A huge goal of mental health awareness is to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.


  • 1 in 5 adults in America experience mental illness.
  • 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness.
  • 50% of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.


  • Depression is the #1 cause of disability around the world.
  • Serious mental illness costs $193 billion in lost earnings each year.
  • 90% of those who die from suicide have an underlying mental illness.

The following infographic, courtesy of NAMI, shows the numbers, impact, and consequences of mental illness. Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 8.28.46 AM


The good news is that there are effective treatments for those suffering from mental illness. If you think you or someone you know needs help, the first step is to pick up the phone and call a mental health professional. They’ll walk you through the rest.


The Rendezvous & Carnival Hits RECORD NUMBERS!

By: Kit Muellner; Owner & Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.24.29 PMFirst Things First: Thank You!

Thank you all for attending and/or supporting our 2016 H.O.P.E. Ranch Rendezvous and Carnival: A fun day of celebration at H.O.P.E. Ranch that raises money for client scholarships and programs and helps provide care for the animals. We are happy to report that this year’s numbers are higher than ever!

Money Raised

With this year’s proceeds we are able to fund more scholarships and programs than ever before. The money from the silent auction, baked goods sales, games and donations surpassed last year’s numbers. This helps clients, for instance without insurance, pay for services and allows us to partner with others, such as MN Teen Challenge Rochester, to provide programs to address specific needs.


We also give a huge shout out to our volunteers this year. Great volunteers are critical and we want to thank the individuals who stepped up. A special thanks to the Mayo High School swim team for coming out although it was their homecoming! We truly appreciate each and every one of you and hope to see you back next year. If you’d like to volunteer throughout the year we can always use help with animal chores. Contact Andrea at: or fill out the volunteer form on our website.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our staff who volunteered countless hours.

Amanda Briggs & Andrea Benike. Thank you!

amanda-cropped screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-3-33-31-pm


We couldn’t do this-literally-without the financial and in-kind support from our sponsors. Be sure to support them back by frequenting their business.

Pine Island Bank
Minuteman Press
Rochester Women Magazine
Coulee Bank
Wintering Law Office
First American Insurance
Jaguar Communications
Red Barn Learning Center
Twisted Barrel Pizza

Next Year

Yes. There will be another Rendezvous. Mark your calendars (it’s typically the first Saturday in October.) If you have feedback, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email with the subject line: Rendezvous feedback to

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Other articles you may enjoy
PTSD Awareness
Staff Developments & Retreats

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-3-51-53-pmKit Muellner is the Owner & Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and is an EAGALA Certified Psychotherapist and Horse Specialist. Kit is well known as a stand out in her field, specializing in work with children, adults and families. Before starting H.O.P.E. Ranch in 1999, Kit worked with facilities such as Olmsted County, Omnia Family Services, Gerard Treatment Facilities, Mendota Mental Health Institute and Mayo Clinic.

2016 FREE Rendezvous & Carnival at The Ranch! – Sat, Oct. 1st 10am-3pm

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.25.30 PM Looking for something fun to do near Rochester on Saturday, October 1st?

Round up the Critters and Come to The Annual H.O.P.E. Ranch Rendezvous & Carnival.

Here’s just a few reasons you’ll want to mark your calendar:
It’s Fun (Attendance grows each year!)
It’s Free (That means $0 to get in and $0 to park)
It’s on a Ranch just a few minutes outside of Rochester.
The proceeds benefit the animals and provide scholarships for clients.

Come hang out with:
Other Animals
And some really nice people

Round up the kids. Herd ‘em out to The Ranch and saddle up to the many events:
Animal Grooming
Carnival Games
Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!
Face Painting
Silent Auction Items
Delicious Homemade Baked Goods
Superhero Appearances
Photo Opportunities
And More!

Your kids will leave happy and exhausted.

Check out a few photos from last year’s Rendezvous & Carnival:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.21.33 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.22.14 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.23.00 PM
Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.23.17 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.23.58 PM
Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.24.29 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.25.16 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.20.46 PM




SSTAR Camp: Gives Teens Strategies & Tools for Success

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 6.30.30 AMWhen children reach adolescence; relationships, self image, peer pressure, trust and whole host of other issues become crucial. Teens need to develop tools and strategies to help them deal with what will come their way. SSTAR Camp was developed for this very reason. 

SSTAR Camp is ideal for youth seeking to develop tools and strategies needed to make good choices. Experiential activities with H.O.P.E. Ranch horses help youth learn about:
Group Cohesion
Personal safety
Peer pressure
Saying good-bye

The next SSTAR Camp Session will be August 22-25,  2016 from 9am to Noon for 12-16 year-olds. (Teens will be split into similar age groups) Cost is $300.

Call: (507) 281-3033 to Register

How is SSTAR Camp different?
« Utilizes EAGALA and other experiential activities
« Licensed mental health professional facilitator
« Special education teacher facilitator
« All equine related activities are done on the ground

To learn more or register, call us today at 507-281-3033!

June is PTSD Awareness Month

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.25.22 AMThe United States Senate designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day and The National Center for PTSD designates the entire month of June as PTSD Awareness Month in an effort to bring greater awareness to the issue of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)


PTSD is a mental health problem that can occur after someone has been exposed to a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events, such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. Those suffering experience symptoms such as  persistent intrusive thoughts and distressing dreams about the traumatic event, triggered emotional responses to reminders of the trauma, try to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, and persistent hypervigilance for cues that  indicate additional danger or trauma re-occurring.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD was created in 1989 by a congressional mandate. The goals was to address the needs of veterans with military-related PTSD.

After a traumatic event, effects of the event fade over time for most people. But for others, the memories, thoughts and feelings don’t go away – even months or years after the event is over. Mental health experts are not sure why some people develop PTSD and others do not.


There are many possible treatments for PTSD and a person may have to try a number of them before finding one that works: Counseling and Psychotherapy Treatments such as: Cognitive Psychotherapy, Exposure Psychotherapy Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for instance. Some suffering from PTSD may also benefit from anti-depressant medications.

There’s a rapidly growing interest in equine-assisted psychotherapy supporting the psychological health and family relationships of service members, veterans and their families worldwide.

More than 30 VA Medical Centers are participating in Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) programs all around the US.

WHY HORSESScreen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.25.53 AM

According to EAGALA.ORG, The experiential nature of working with horses through the EAGALA Model engages military personnel in their own healing process, with solutions that meet them squarely on their own terms.

Horses have a special ability to help people work through emotional barriers, serving as metaphors and powerful stand-ins for the people, issues, and challenges in the client’s life. The EAGALA Model leads to powerful emotional breakthroughs and life-changing insights for the client, strengthening resilience and coping skills. Through the efforts of facilitators certified with EAGALA Military Services designation, service members, veterans, and their families can more quickly and completely understand and integrate new perspectives and behaviors into their lives.

This is especially true and valuable for people who suffer the effects of trauma. With the EAGALA Model Psychotherapy, clients challenge themselves in activities with horses that remove much of the perceived stigma associated with traditional talk Psychotherapy treatment methods.

If you know a military person or anyone suffering from PTSD, consider horse Psychotherapy through the EAGALA Model.

“We have conducted a number of EAGALA EAP sessions. The veterans who participate
tell me that never have they found a group or individual session so useful and life
changing, and that they have found hope. After these workshops, many reflect
frequently on the experience and skills learned then take these lessons into their
daily lives.”

                                                    -Susan T. Lisi, AFGE Local 3306 Chief Steward,
                                                      VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, New York

“Seeing how differently the horses reacted to each one of us has helped
me get closer to my wife.  It has brought our entire family
closer than we have ever been.”

                                                      -Iraq War veteran

Resources: EAGALA Military Services Brochure
OPRAH: (Video) How Horses Help An Army Veteran Heal From Post Traumatic Stress
PTSD Facts