By Toni Tuller
Special to The PREVIEW
The little girl approached the gray horse with apprehension, fear from her own past abuse making trust seem an unattainable goal. An hour later, laughing in exhilaration, she was urging her human mentor, “Again! Can we trot again?”
Another young girl, bullied at school to the point of wanting to move away, readily identified with a small, frightened mare who was at the bottom of the pecking order within the herd. By helping the little mare overcome her fears, this young lady gained confidence and courage to face her own.
A group of adult recovering alcoholics and drug addicts found common ground among a group of horses and ponies that were rescued from slaughter, reaching out with great empathy to the frightened, traumatized equines.
These are some of the stories that come out of Eagle’s Nest Youth Ranch right here in Pagosa. Eagle’s Nest Youth Ranch is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 Christian organization that pairs horses and youth to bring growth, hope and healing. Although its primary focus is “at risk” or disadvantaged youth, they work with anyone who desires to participate. They operate entirely on donations — there is never any charge for their services.
ENYR’s program is non-residential and consists primarily of two-hour sessions in which one child is paired with one horse and one leader for individual attention and mentoring. They address the specific needs and challenges of each child, showing complete acceptance and unconditional love along with proper boundaries and expectations. The actual activities can vary widely depending on the child.
The secondary purpose of the ranch is to rescue abused or neglected equines. Through the interaction between these horses and participants, bonds are created that touch and heal both.
ENYR has recently rescued nine horses destined for slaughter in Mexico. They are currently trying to build winter shelters for these horses and are in need of building supplies and winter hay, as well as other onetime or ongoing needs. All donations are tax-deductible. Volunteers are also always welcome.
For information about ENYR, call 731-1775 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find ENYR on Facebook and at eaglesnestyouthranch.org.