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Reno nonprofit provides horse therapy for homeless veterans, at-risk youth

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 10:06 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Victory Ranch, a Reno nonprofit located at 15190 N. Red Rock Road, continues to give homeless and disabled veterans a sense of purpose and healing through horse therapy.

“We’re here to serve.”

Doug Hutten, Founder and Executive Director of Victory Ranch

Doug Hutten is a retired veteran and the founder of Victory Ranch, an equestrian nonprofit that provides therapeutic programs to disadvantaged, low-income youth, as well as homeless veterans.

“We take the hands of students or veterans and walk them into the world of the spirit of the horse,” Hutten said.

The ranch allows clients to create a bond with its horses by grooming, walking, riding, and feeding them. Each participant is encouraged to reach the following goals: team skills, personal achievement, improved healthy communication, self-confidence, and connecting with the environment/outdoors.

Hutten added, “They are giving animals, they are animals that you can connect with and be gentle with and they listen.”

Veterans like Howard Foster and Frank Mojica know first-hand the positive impact these horses can bring.

“I had a true calmness about myself and everything around me.”

Howard Foster, Disabled Veteran

“I find it very therapeutic for me, and that’s what I need is to be out here, be with the horses,” Frank Mojica, Veteran, said.

Hutten says his ranch has taken a hit due to COVID-19, but that won’t stop him from pressing on. “I’ve taken dollars that I don’t have out of my pocket to help keep this going at times. God answers prayers and we are grateful for those people who can help contribute some dollars to us.”

“You don’t find people very often that are truly willing to give up themselves and just want to do it for the fact of they know it’s going to help others and help the community in general, so I’m so grateful for it, I truly am,” Foster said.

Mojica added, “There’s a lot of veterans out there, homeless or not, they need this opportunity, they need to be given a chance.”

Victory Ranch offers a number of programs. The About The Horse Program occurs each quarter for disadvantaged and underserved youth ranging in ages from 8-16. The kids learn about horses, horsemanship, tack, and riding. The Horse Art Program allows participants ages 8-16, 17-24, and veterans to create drawings centered around the hose, as well as feeding and grooming. The Veterans Ranch Visit Program partners with various Veteran organizations in the Reno-Sparks area to allow vets to spend time with horses, groom, feed, and walk them.

“This program, along with other things from the VA has helped me immensely,” Foster said.

Victory Ranch is made possible by the generosity of northern Nevadans. If you’d like to give back to this charity, click here. Volunteer opportunities are also available.

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