SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – It’s a bond that is unbreakable and unique, the bond between men and women in the military.
But, there’s another special bond that’s helping our veterans after they come home.
That’s the one between man and mustang.
The bond that you make with a wild mustang is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.Dale Lackey, DLR Mustang Ranch
It’s a connection they say you can’t quite describe until you feel it, but it’s changing the lives of local veterans, and some wild mustangs, in Ohio.
It all started with a trip to the Mustang Heritage Foundation in Granger, Texas.
I’ve worked as a paramedic for close to 20 years now and I see what we go through, what other people go through, what law enforcement goes through and it’s tough.Dale Lackey, DLR Mustang Ranch
Lackey is an Army veteran and paramedic, who has felt the after effects of his service and his work.
I got down to Texas expecting not any more than just learn how to train a horse and I got a free horse to bring home.Dale Lackey, DLR Mustang Ranch
Lackey said he wasn’t expecting much from the program, other than learning how to train wild mustangs, but that all changed when he met a horse named Sadie.
She showed me that the more frustrated and upset and angered I would get at trying to work with her, the more standoffish she would be, so I had to learn how to control all that. Control the anger. Control the frustration.Dale Lackey, DLR Mustang Ranch
Seeing the change in himself and other veterans with PTSD inspired Lackey to open DLR Mustang Ranch in Salineville.
In just a few months, with the help of family and friends, he’s made a lot of progress, both with the mustangs and with other veterans.
A lot of the frustrations that he might come home from work with, he can go out to the horses and it just dissipates. I’ve seen that with some vets that have come out here as well. When they first come out they’re anxious and fidgety and as soon as they’re out with our horses, even just our domesticated horses, they completely relax.Renee Lackey, DLR Mustang Ranch
DLR Mustang Ranch isn’t just open to veterans. Paramedics and other first responders are welcome to come feel the calming effects of the horses.
The goal is to put veterans and wild mustangs through the same program Lackey experienced in Texas. The Ranch would like to offer it several times a year, free of charge to the veterans.
That’s not all, the ranch has also welcomed youth trainers who have a passion for working with horses.
A wild horse, mustang, they think you’re gonna hurt them at first. Coming from the wild and then coming into this area, it’s very scary for them, so once they realize ‘oh ok you’re not gonna hurt me so I know anything you ask me to do is not gonna hurt me’.Makenna & Katie, DLR Mustang Ranch Youth Trainers
Both are working with their own wild mustangs. Makenna’s is named Flynn. They will be competing together in 100 Day Extreme Mustang Makeover. Katie is also making progress with her mustang WindDancer.
It takes time to create this special bond.
To get out to the mustangs you have to walk through the pastures and all their mustangs come up and greet you, so that’s awesome just being surrounded by all the horses.Jenifer Eash, Makenna’s Mother & DLR Mustang Ranch Volunteer
For everyone involved, it’s hours of work that are life changing.
It’s kind of like the bond you get with your brothers and sisters in the military, except this animal has four legs and can’t talk to you, but you feed off each other’s energy, body movements, body language.Josh & Dranae Carmel, DLR Mustang Ranch Volunteers.
Josh is a Marine Corps Veteran and will be one of the first to officially go through the DLR Mustang Ranch program.
All of the programs at DLR Mustang Ranch are made possible by donations.
If you’d like to learn more about what they do, or follow the ranch’s journey, visit their Facebook page. You can also contact them by calling (740) 491-7427 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.