By Adrienne Pond
Photography By Adrienne Pond
Dee Marrs, Secretary for The Joyful Horse Project and Restoration Ranch, offers thirteen-year-old Sahara aroma therapy. Marrs’ expertise in holistic health practices benefits horses and veterans alike. Sahara is the matriarch of the ranch’s herd.
Beth Rand, President and Executive Director of The Joyful Horse Project and Restoration Ranch, caresses Champ while keeping a watchful eye on mischievous Trooper. At 17 hands tall and fully recovered from being abandoned in the past, Champ will live out the rest of his days at Restoration Ranch. Trooper stands one foot above Champ and is a retired Department of Public Safety patrol horse.
Tondra Jade Daily, a ranch hand at Restoration Ranch, enjoys a light moment with Trooper, a nine-year-old Saddlebred gelding.
Della Rose (service dog), Michael Richardson, and Beth Rand survey the ranch’s twenty-two and a half acres, soon to be filled with veterans and their families for a day sponsored by Texas State Veterans Alliance. Richardson is Director and Veterans Program Facilitator at Restoration Ranch and runs programs that develop reciprocated trust and valuable communication between horses and veterans.
Moxie stays close to Derek Knapp, Vice-President of Restoration Ranch and a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger. Eleven-year-old Moxie is Rand’s personal horse.
Richardson works with Moxie in the arena during Restoration Ranch’s third annual Veteran Family Day.
Attendees enjoy watching Richardson work with Moxie.
Nicklaus, a miniature horse, is a former therapy animal who wound up in the care of a dog rescue organization and subsequently found his way to Restoration Ranch’s healing environment.
A quiet moment between Karen Lynn Hill and Frances Jones Jones away from the activities during Veteran Family Day.
Moxie takes a break from working with Richardson to visit Simona Briaukus near the gate into the arena.
Adults and children alike are captivated by the ranch’s resident horses.
Snacking and using the shade to cool off, Trooper and pal Andi are curious about the clicking of the camera’s shutter. Andi is described as “very kind but cautious” with a confidence younger horses look up to.
Brightly colored scarves on the ends of drum sticks make for colorful drumming during a Drumtastics event on April 14.
With Moxie and Richardson’s help, a student is learning the basics of working with a horse.
A young man watches Richardson work with a student in the arena.
Two young girls take advantage of the space in the fence to watch Richardson and Moxie instruct a student on the fundamentals of horse work.
Zaim (foreground) and Star crisscross each other’s areas to see what the other missed. Star and her filly was saved from a slaughter lot.
An elegant horse named PJ heads toward an open field with a little speed.
A young girl takes her play seriously during a Drumtastics event.
Two Veteran Family Day attendees are captivated by Moxie’s poise.
Marysol Frost relaxes on her ball/drum during a break in the music.
Wildflowers weave through the fence line while Zaim relaxedly continues lunch.
Waiting for the next song to begin, a young drummer soaks up the sunlight and breeze.
Andi and Champ stay close to one another, peacefully roaming their enclosure.
Beth Rand is the founder of the nonprofit ranch that fosters equine development that in turn supports veterans.
Trooper enjoys a midday snack.
Byron Cox and his daughter Emma gently take their time getting to know Al, the newest member of the equine family at Restoration Ranch.
Spring winds gently ripple through the leaves of 400-year-old live oak trees that stand proud on Restoration Ranch’s 22 and a half acres in Bastrop, Texas. It is currently home to 16 rescued horses that are partnered with veterans and their families in this holistic healing environment founded by Beth Rand in 2012.
Restoration Ranch is stewarded by The Joyful Horse Project, also founded by Rand and classified as a 501c(3) organization.
Rand, herself an accomplished equestrian and champion for animals, is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of horses in need. The horses come from myriad backgrounds, including abuse, neglect, waiting in a kill pen or being discarded at retirement or after being injured.
What the horses need to heal often parallels what veterans need, according to Derek Knapp, the vice president, operations manager and executive director of Restoration Ranch. A former captain in the U.S. Army, Knapp is a combat veteran and lifelong horseman, which gives him an ability to bring horses and veterans together with the goal of healing both.
The live oaks at Restoration Ranch canopy the waving grass, peppered with wildflowers. This is where the horses roam – sheltered, regaining health, and teaching veterans how to trust, breathe and heal.