Local Ranch Proves that Animals Can Truly Transform Lives
Hunkapi Farms may appear to be a horse ranch, but the purpose and focus of this farm is so much bigger. It is a place that connects people with animals while staying deeply committed to the spirit and culture of Scottsdale.
Sitting on 10 acres, this unique location is home to a therapeutic equestrian program that serves a wide range of adults and children with emotional, cognitive and physical challenges.
“While the horses are the foundational piece of our program, we have also brought chickens and pigs into the mix,” Program Director Terra Schaad says.
Terra wanted to offer an array of animals to work with as each brings out different energy and reactions.
“Kids who have been through abuse and trauma enjoy the chickens. I watch their mannerisms soften and melt with chickens—they learn to be gentle, to move slowly, to talk quieter and to show compassion,” she says.
The horses are used as a tool to teach children strength, bravery and how to be more assertive, and the pigs are pure joy, Terra explains.
At one time, Terra feared they would have to shut down Hunkapi.
“We had an arrangement that didn’t pan out with the property manager, and we announced we may need to shut down at our annual Christmas at the Farm event (where we host homeless children),” she says. A volunteer stepped up and bought us a farm nearby. That’s the Scottsdale community—we needed help, and people answered the call. It’s so beautiful.”
Luckily the stars aligned and Hunkapi was able to reopen at its original location where they hope to stay. The owners hope to maintain this property and keep it a community-based horse facility where visitors can come experience farm life.
Currently, Hunkapi serves 300 students and clients per week with special needs. It has 25 horses and boards about 25 Arabians as well. Those in the program get the added bonus of learning to live on the land.
“We are committed to making this farm an example of a sustainably run and sustainably conscious place,” Terra says. “We compost, and we rebuild. We tore down a pavilion and built a garden wall full of succulents, fruits and veggies. We have wind chimes built from well pipes. We teach kids to be intentional, not impulsive and make things beautiful and purposeful.”
Terra is proud to carry on a legacy a Hunkapi, as she credits horses for saving her life.
“I trained horses professionally in Texas, and once engaged in that world I knew I had a knack for it—it helped me see how animals relate to people,” she says. “They helped me through my own trauma and healed me, so I felt an obligation to give this to other people.”
Terra has since gotten a degree in counseling and uses her vast knowledge of horses to assist people to live a better life. She feels Hunkapi leaves a mark on everyone who visits.
“I was driven toward the horses, always have been, but we are a people farm first and foremost!”
12051 N. 96th St., Scottsdale, Arizona, 480.393.0870, Hunkapi.org