SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – Some people know DLR Mustang Ranch very well.

In fact, it feels like home.

Others will eventually visit for the first time.

Everyone who goes to DLR Mustang Ranch generally has one thing in common, they need some kind of escape. 

For several years the ranch has been offering programs, or just visits, to people with PTSD and other mental health struggles, or those who work in high-stress situations.

It’s become a place that provides help that other’s cant to veterans, first responders, police officers and so many more.

All the while the ranch has kept growing to invite more wild mustangs and more people into its gates.

“We tell people when they come down the driveway they’re family and they’re stuck with us, whether they want us or not.”  

Renee Lackey, Owner, DLR Mustang Ranch

It’s a family that walks on two legs and four, living at a place where stresses are left at the barn door. 

“Once they find out what we do here, some people just sort of migrate to us, which is really cool. The word gets out to the veterans who need to be here, the first responders who need to be here and they bring their families.”

Dale Lackey, Owner, DLR Mustang Ranch

DLR Mustang Ranch went from a dream for the future to a reality for Dale and Renee Lackey.

Now it’s become an oasis for veterans, first responders, and anyone living with turmoil in their life.  

However, that journey wasn’t an easy one. 

Much like the mustangs they train have been through hardships, so have the Lackey’s.

Through COVID and personal health struggles, building the ranch has come one addition at a time.

Most recently, it’s been the brand new barn, finished just days ago, that provides more space for the 36 mustangs on the property and an additional area for them to be trained.

But, for every step forward there have also been hurdles for the DLR Mustang Ranch family to climb. 

“It’s all God. He put this on our hearts to do and when he tells us to do something we know he will provide. Either he’ll change our direction, or he’s going to provide for us. Sometimes it’s been to the last minute, but he has brought people into our lives to help us. We can’t do it by ourselves at all.”

Renee Lackey, Owner, DLR Mustang Ranch

Since 2019 when DLR Mustang Ranch began, countless people have come from near and far to train these wild mustangs at the ranch. 

They’ve participated in the veterans program, or just spent a few hours for a relaxing visit.

“I’ve always had horses, but I always wanted a mustang.” 

Craig Brinker, Veteran

Craig Brinker is one of those people. He’s an Air Force Veteran and current 911 dispatcher who uses time with his mustang “Trooper” to relax.

“After a long day, I like to come out and hang out with him.” 

Craig Brinker, Veteran

Brinker is one of many people who have found the relieve they’ve needed, or the community they’ve longed for. 

He encourages others to come to DLR Mustang Ranch and do the same.

“If you are a veteran and you find yourself where stress bothers you, or you just looking for an outlet, these mustangs are unbelievable. Just spending time with them alone has such a great calming effect.” 

Craig Brinker, Veteran

There’s a powerful connection between man and mustang that through the years 7News has followed at the DLR Mustang Ranch and tried to understand.

But, as anyone who has been here will tell you, it’s not something you can capture unless you’ve felt it.

“Each horse has a different sense that it picks up on people and that’s what’s really cool about it. We’ve got horses out in the pasture field and our mustangs that if someone comes through the gate and they’re there holding something in really tight and there are mourning for somebody, Miss Ellie, my sister’s horse will migrate right over to them. If they’re having too much stress from their job, we’ve got a horse out here, Sugarfoot, she comes over to them.” 

Dale Lackey, Owner, DLR Mustang Ranch

DLR Mustang Ranch gives these animals a better life, but the animals are also saving the lives who feel hopeless or lost.

“Give these these mustangs a chance. You might be surprised just how well you can you can connect with one of them and bond with them. They’re really something.” 

Craig Brinker, Veteran

The Lackeys say the mustangs are also great with children. 

So, if you think you’d like to use training these animals as a form of therapy, you can always bring your family along. 

“Mustangs like children, so if you have children don’t let that be a fear factor for you. Give these mustangs a chance. Even mustangs that we’re still working with as adults will come right over to the kids and let the kids feed them. They just love the kids.” 

Dale Lackey, Owner, DLR Mustang Ranch

The services at DLR Mustang Ranch are free for veterans and first responders. 

You can reach them at (740) 491-7427 or check out their Facebook page