Then and now…

November 2020 newsletter, and a look-back

November 13, 2020
Dear friends, supporters and encouragers,

I found the newsletter from January of this year. So much has happened since that day! (page two here)

• We found a permanent home at Wine Down Ranch, just north of Prineville

• We earned two of our Eagala Military Services individual designations

• We began seeing regular clients one or two days a week in March

• We co-wrote a grant in partnership with Crook County Health Department, and were awarded financial resources to serve young people in our community, this time specific to resiliency and suicide prevention for the LGBTQ+ youth

• We served our first Veteran. What an honor it is be able to serve those who have served.

• We co-hosted the first (of many) sessions of Young, Wild, Free to Be – youth resiliency skills workshop with Canyon Moon Farms and Bhakti Earth Yoga

• We served 10 individuals between March and September, some of them each week like clockwork

• We began group therapy services

• We began outlining other spaces we can develop for therapeutic and educational programming

• We have seen referrals for services increase, coming from across the tri-county region

What we need
• Like every nonprofit serving our community, we need money
*Funding for services, for those in the gap without insurance or means to pay for service
*Funding to build an indoor space to do our work through the winter months
*Funding to keep our equine team fed, healthy and well cared for
*Funding for ongoing training to keep our therapeutic human team certified and updated
*Funding to increase our capacity to serve – to meet the demands of our community
• We need Board members and Committee members (Fundraising and Volunteer Workday planners)
*We have an increasingly strong board, and some exciting new members, but we need expertise in legal and financial worlds. I’m just a horse chic
*We have a couple of people interested in collaborating on a significant fundraising event, a solid team with this singular focus would be awesome, also in developing major sponsors

Needs are widespread and deep this season. If you are able to give financially, we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit

PayPal or mail check to HORSES on the Ranch PO BOX 1781, Prineville 97754

If all you can do is hold a space in your heart for us, and spread the word, that is important and valuable too!

Facebook @HORSESontheRanch also, please share our website

And soon, we will have even more stories to tell. We look forward to sharing them with you.

Would you help by sharing our story?
Forever grateful – Darcy
Darcy Bedortha, MS, MA
Founder and Director, HORSES on the Ranch

January 2020 – Moving Forward

Dear friends, supporters and encouragers,

Trails sometimes turn to hardscrabble, and can be difficult to see amidst the rock and tangled roots. We are on it, however, and moving forward with faith and trust. As always, we are ceaseless in our gratitude for your support. Bear with me as I’m about to get personal…

January is a time of growth for me, and growth is not always easy. January is the month of my birth. When I came into this world, my Dad was slogging through a jungle on the other side of the planet. He got the news of my safe arrival from the Red Cross. How many new Daddies, on unending battlefields everywhere, will get similar word from home today?

Many Januarys later, January 2018, I let go of my rented home and moved into a world of house-sitting, house-sharing and camping off-grid. I made an intentional decision to focus my resources on launching this work of healing trauma in my community. I want to help people like my Dad, and like my former students, and those from the decades in between, and the little ones growing up today, and…

January 2019 I founded HORSES on the Ranch.

This year, this week, mid-January 2020, we were scheduled to begin serving clients, young and not-so-young. The agreement we had with a facility fell through a few weeks ago, however, and we find ourselves suddenly without a home from which to serve.

Growth is not always easy.

Vaclav Havel once said “Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”

Hope, even if deep and powerful, can feel a little ragged… but each time I grow weary, angels drop in with a clear message: “keep going”… So we add another brick to the foundation of faith and trust, and we continue to build.

Great things have happened between the last January and this one. HORSES on the Ranch received its non-profit status, we held a fantastic inaugural event- the McKay Creek Cowboy Gathering, launched a successful fundraising campaign, served our first clients and were funded to attend our first big training as a team. In 2019 Robyn, Alia and I all earned our individual certification through Eagala, I earned my military designation and have moved toward advanced certification. We received support from Crook County Rotary, Ford Family Foundation, and Crook County Foundation’s Cultural Trust.

In late fall 2019 Eagala, our professional governing organization (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) received an Adaptive Sports grant from the Veterans Administration of over $637,000 to support this work. At the time of the grant, there existed only 19 military designated programs in the nation. The need is too big to measure, the healing power of the work is increasingly recognized, and the financial support is there – we simply need to get to work!

We thought that work would begin this week. Instead, we have been directed to move towards a more perfect location, a permanent home where we can let our roots grow deep and build our foundation solid and strong. Our vision is a home for healing and growth, where the community, old and young, warrior and student, parent, teacher, leader and friend, can rely solidly on our presence in times of need.

It’s out there. We’ll find it.

My faith is strong, I trust this process and the greater plan, and my state of mind is that of hope – in the deep and powerful sense Havel spoke of – and I will continue to do this work, because it is good. There is power in community when we work together in the name of Love, and our community is worthy of the effort.

Would you help by sharing our story?

Forever grateful –

Darcy and the team at HORSES on the Ranch

Facebook @HORSESontheRanch

VA Funding

So honored and excited to have worked with Congressman Andy Barr’s office to successfully include therapies incorporating horses into a new proposed bill to provide more access to community resources for suicide prevention with veterans! Read the full press release here that shares Eagala’s letter of support and the success of Rep. Barr’s amendment: And watch the video to hear Rep. Barr propose his amendment in committee to add “adaptive sports, equine-assisted therapy, and non-traditional and innovative approaches to the list of covered services in the bill…” He also formally identifies Eagala and reads our letter of support for entry in the congressional record! This is a powerful acknowledgment and support for the impact of Eagala programs addressing mental health needs worldwide. Thank you @RepAndyBarr for your incredible support and advocacy for the work we do in Eagala to change lives through the beneficial relationship with #horses. #WeAreEagala #Veterans #suicideprevention #horsesheal

Press Release: VA awards significant funding to Eagala Military Designated programs


VA provides $637,700 for Equine-Assisted Mental Health Services to Veterans and Service Members through Eagala Military Services Designated Programs across the United States

SANTAQUIN, Utah, Nov. 5, 2019/PRNewswire/–

Eagala will receive $637,700 to fund services that have been shown to improve the mental and emotional health of veterans and service members across the United States. This funding, provided by the VA Adaptive Sport Grant (ASG), will serve veterans and Military service members from October 2019-September 2020 through equine-assisted psychotherapy–where horses are involved in focused, professional clinical interventions to address trauma and other mental health needs, including substance abuse, depression and improving family relationships.

Eagala received one of the largest awards in recent history with just under half of the $1.5 million specifically designated for equine-assisted mental health within the VA ASG’s full budget. The organization’s recent grant funding from the VA has nearly tripled from last year’s inaugural funding thanks in part to the program evaluation clinical outcomes showing extremely positive results.The funding will serve veteran and military individuals, couples or groups in partnership with Eagala’s national network of Military Designated Programs.

Eagala Military Designated programs have facilitation teams of licensed mental health professionals and certified equine professionals who work in partnership with horses to provide services. The Eagala Military Designation was created as a way of setting and maintaining the standard of clinical training and cultural competence required to effectively work with military populations in a mental health setting. There are currently 19 programs in the US that have earned the Eagala Military Designation, and CEO Lynn Thomas expects that number to grow rapidly. “Eagala is proud to be the only equine-assisted mental health organization in the industry to put forth and maintain these critically important clinical and cultural competence standards,” Thomas said. “This grant will enable us to grow our programs providing this effective approach serving veterans.”

Halina Kowalski, Eagala Military Services Director, led the grant effort and will oversee its management and coordinate collective outcome-based projects in collaboration with Eagala Military Services programs. According to Kowalski, “Very early preliminary program evaluation outcomes from last year’s ASG funded programming are showing that veterans are experiencing a clinically meaningful reduction of PTSD symptoms and their quality of life is significantly increasing as well. We are expecting to see this trend continue and we have plans for future research projects and publication. ”

In the Eagala Model, all work is done in relationship with horses exclusively on the ground. It is a specific mental health treatment protocol incorporating horses provided by an Eagala Certified team of mental health professional and equine specialist. It is effective because it embraces the science that humans learn best by doing. The model prescribes a hands-on approach where veterans are given the space to project and analyze their situations, make connections, and find their own solutions. How do horses help the process? Horses are a prey animal, and as a result, they are hyper-sensitive to their environment, something that veterans relate to. As a result of their sensitivity, horses respond in ways that provide feedback to the veterans of relationships in their lives, whether it be with others, their environment, or themselves. Horses provide an emotionally safe way to work through and strengthen these relationships.