My husband Jr. served in the Army for eight years before being 100% medically retired for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), severe depression, anxiety, and other physical impairments. He did two tours in Iraq, every tour being more than a year each. When he came back we were very excited, but the person that came back was not my husband; he was a different person. He was antisocial and angry all the time. He didn’t sleep, he was cold, and he was just a very depressed person. Even after many inpatient treatments, outpatient treatments, and many medications, nothing seemed to help him. After years going through all that, I learned that horses can help heal people like my husband. We have always liked horses, but for some reason we never thought of having one. After considering it for awhile, we decided to buy one. Then after we brought her home, we didn’t know how to train her. After asking for help from the organizations that my husband was part of, TBI Freedom found Suzy MacKenzie. She volunteered to help us free of charge. She traveled from more than an hour away from her home almost every Saturday to teach us and help us train our horse. Just by teaching my husband how to behave around the horse, how to treat her, and how to praise her, it made a big difference in my husband’s life and our whole family. I believe that the interaction my husband had with the horse awoke something in him that was asleep for many years, and that was “care, love, and understanding.” Those feelings hadn’t existed in my husband before Suzy taught him and woke those feelings back up. What Suzy gave my husband and my family was hope. Suzy was the greatest blessing that my family needed at that time. If it wasn’t for her, God only knows where my husband would be. We believe in what she can do, and we believe in what the horses can do.
Suhaithly Diaz 3/5/15
Danny is the ranch favorite due to his endearing personality. He loves attention and is quite social with ranch participants and visitors. He LOVES to eat and will beg for food. His gentle and friendly nature has given ranch participants confidence even though he is the largest of the horses at 16.2 hands. Danny has his own story of soaring above adversity. Ten years ago, while playing in the pasture, he somehow broke and fractured several bones in his right hind pastern. Surgery was the only option. Upon further review of his case it was discovered that the damage was more extensive than what had been originally thought, and the cost of the surgery tripled. His owner had to make the most difficult decision to put him down. When the authorization for euthanasia came across the surgeon’s desk, he said, “No, we have to save this one.” You see, Danny was part of a therapeutic riding program in southern Colorado. The kids and families from the riding program were making the 2 hour drive to Denver to the horse clinic to visit him, and the surgeon had not seen a horse have so many visitors like Danny did. Additionally, in the few days that Danny had been at the clinic, he knew Danny was a special horse. The surgeon decided to cap the cost of the surgery, and his most grateful owner gave the go ahead to operate. Others chipped in and helped pay the cost of the surgery as well. His leg was fixed with two rods and 11 screws. After months of recovery, Danny, now with a permanent disability, returned to his job of helping others with their disabilities. A few years later the riding program closed and Danny went into retirement. When it came the time to look for program horses, Suzy put a post on Facebook in search of session horses. A friend of Danny’s owner saw the post and notified her friend. Suzy and Danny’s owner met and knew right away that Danny was meant to go back to his job of helping others; this time at Eagle’s Nest Ranch. Soon after their meeting he arrived at the ranch and became our first program horse. Danny is here at the ranch on a free lease agreement. The ranch pays his expenses while he is here in the program. God in His sovereign plan saved Danny’s life and eventually brought him to Eagle’s Nest Ranch. We couldn’t be more blessed with his presence and role at the ranch.