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Dear Spirit Reins supporters, donors and friends,


On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am writing to let you know that we have made the difficult (and hopeful) decision to close Spirit Reins. All services at Spirit Reins ended on December 16, 2021 and on January 13, 2022 the Board held a vote for the dissolution of Spirit Reins and distribution of our assets to two amazing organizations. On March 4th, we will hand off the reins and close our gates for good.


As is true for many nonprofits, the pandemic has taken a toll on Spirit Reins. We struggled to survive in 2020 but with the gracious support of our incredible funders we dug deep and kept trying. We spent much of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 reinventing ourselves to try to rebuild our service offerings to reach pre-pandemic levels. We found new ways to lean into our core competencies and launched very successful new programs to serve adolescents and parents.


Unfortunately, the pandemic and its effects on our staff, donors, and community did not dissipate. It became apparent in late October 2021 that COVID-19 would be an ongoing challenge for the foreseeable future. The potentiality for more program interruptions and uncertainty would not be ideal for clients, who need safe, consistent, and in-person therapy. Additionally, we were faced with the reality that, with the current conditions of the economic and philanthropic landscape, Austin-area nonprofits are in an intense competition for resources, staff, and funding.


After many weeks of grappling with the knowledge that things would likely get more challenging for our staff, our financial forecast, and our community, the Board of Directors and Executive Director, Rhonda Smith, made the difficult decision to close Spirit Reins. Instead of continuing to struggle for sustainability, Spirit Reins has made the decision to dissolve our nonprofit status gracefully and with dignity by using the resources we have to give other mental health and equine therapy organizations a boost. We look forward to sharing more about each of these organizations and our intentional selection process in the coming weeks. 


While we know the news of Spirit Reins closing may bring up difficult emotions, we hope that it is also seen as an exciting new opportunity to combine forces with other exceptional nonprofits at a time when hope is needed more than ever. Our ending will offer a generous boost to organizations that are continuously pouring goodness, healing, and light into the community… wonderful nonprofits that will honor the legacy of Spirit Reins!


Thank you again for the role you played in supporting Spirit Reins! We are so profoundly grateful for all the ways you have invested in our mission. And all of us at Spirit Reins are humbled to have served thousands of children and families in Central Texas in such meaningful ways. The mission and memory of Spirit Reins will live on forever in our hearts. 



Jeff Horn

Chair, Spirit Reins Board of Directors

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Dear Friends,

The outpouring of love and support I have received since we sent out the letter from our Board Chair announcing the closing of Spirit Reins has been overwhelming and humbling. I wish I could have reached out to every single one of you personally and shared my heart for how much you mean to me. Your love and support have sustained me (and Spirit Reins) all these years. Thank you!

While this is certainly an emotional decision, it was a very collaborative process with our Board and team.  A few months ago, with our Board’s support and encouragement, I began looking for a partner agency for Spirit Reins to merge with to strengthen our financial situation and our ability to serve more children and families. I went thru the process of interviewing and screening five different organizations as potential merger partners. I narrowed the list down to two organizations, but a true merger did not make sense with either organization.
With the potential of a merger no longer available, our Board held an official vote on January 13, 2022 for the dissolution of Spirit Reins and distribution of our assets to other nonprofit organizations. This vote allows us to close our gates gracefully and share our resources with other organizations that share our vision of ending the generational cycle of trauma. We will be dividing up our remaining assets, including buildings, furniture, therapy tools and intellectual property related to operations and programs, between two wonderful organizations, Phoenix Center in Marble Falls (Burnet County) and HorseLink in Paige (Bastrop County). Both organizations offer a synergistic mission match to continue our legacy of healing and hope for children and families in our community.


Phoenix Center is a perfect match for our mission and population served. They offer experiential therapy for children with critical mental health needs and their families. The majority of the children Phoenix Center serves have been victims of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or another form of trauma. I have been friends with the Founder and Executive Director of Phoenix Center for more than a decade. We share a passion for equine therapy and have had the opportunity to collaborate on several projects together in the past. Phoenix Center is currently in the process of raising funds to build a state-of-the-art equestrian center to launch equine therapy services at Phoenix Center Ranch. I am so thrilled and honored that their initial equine therapy offering will be named in honor of Spirit Reins.

HorseLink is new to me, and I love their mission. This organization is both a permanent home for retired competition horses AND an adult equine therapy program. The horses are therapy partners, participating in exercises to help adults struggling with trauma and addiction recovery. I believe in HorseLink’s understanding of the special connection between humans and horses, their potential to grow in organizational capacity, and all the ways they can positively impact our community.


I’m excited that both of these organizations have offered me the opportunity to be part of making this transition and handoff successful as they each integrate parts of Spirit Reins into their own brand. What a beautiful blessing to know that the legacy of healing we’ve all worked so hard to create will live on!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for affording me this opportunity to lead such an incredible organization for the past 19 years. Thank you for all the ways you have supported me, our herd (both human and horse), and the children and families we serve. The incredible testimonials of healing that are pouring in are a result of your support. My cup truly overflows.

With much love, respect and gratitude,


Rhonda Smith
Founder & Executive Director of Spirit Reins

P. S. One of the biggest questions I’ve heard so far in this process is, “What’s happening to the horses at Spirit Reins?” I made a promise to all of these horses when I started Spirit Reins that they would get to live out their lives here on this ranch as a family, and I intend to keep that promise. The horses will stay here living their best lives in retirement. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still want you to visit and share this beautiful space with them!

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