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Horses & Human Health: Special Ranch Helping Children

Eight years ago, Lisa Carter had the idea to create a “therapy ranch”, helping hurting children and horses at the same time. The result was H.U.G.S. Ranch, which is modeled after a ranch in Oregon, called Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.

The ranch strives to provide a “faith-based, non-threatening, peaceful environment where children with a variety of needs and rescued horses can help heal each other.”

Carter told FOX 17 News the programs, which service children ages 5-17, are completely free.

“We’ve had some [children] that cut, we have autistic children that come, bi-polar, anger management, sensory processing, Asperger’s… Quite a variety,” said Carter. “We’re not therapists… but we have a heart to work with these children.”

Participants come to the ranch for a session once a week, for four weeks. During that time, they learn how to groom and ride the horses.

“They do a lot of bareback riding, they’ll ride forward, backwards, on their bellies,” said Carter. “It’s all feeling and getting to know their emotions…It brings them out of thinking about things that are bothering them, or their limitations.”

Many of the horses also come from troubled backgrounds, and have suffered from previous abuse or neglect.

“The children can relate,” she explained. “They feel like they’re really helping the horses…but in the meantime, what they don’t realize is, that they’re being helped themselves because they’re building self-confidence and self-esteem.”

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