Equestrian Therapy Helps Formerly Homeless and Veterans With PTSD in Orange County

Equestrian Therapy Helps Formerly Homeless and Veterans With PTSD in Orange County

A boy participates in the boys' camp at the Double R Ranch operated by the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission, in San Diego County, Calif. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

7/15/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Double R Ranch is relocating from northern San Diego County to a new 30-acre home in Silverado Canyon, in the mountains east of Tustin, where veterans and the formerly homeless can live with their families and rehabilitate from drug usage and homelessness, thanks to the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission.
The ranch is one of the privately funded nonprofit programs that specializes in animal therapy to coincide with the mission’s offerings of therapy, job training, dental and medical services, financial planning, and more. It operates seven locations for homeless men, women, and children, women escaping human trafficking, and teens on the verge of homelessness.
The mission purchased its new ranch location from St. Michael’s Abbey, which operated a monastery there for 60 years.
The ranch will have chickens, pigs, horses, and goats and house up to 141 men, women, and children. Its former ranch location could only accommodate 24 beds for single men, according to rescue mission Chief Ministry Officer Derrick Burton.
Derrick Burton, pastor and program director at the Christian-based nonprofit Tustin Veterans Outpost run by the Orange County Rescue Mission, stands in front of the outpost's facility in Tustin, Calif., on May 25, 2023. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

Derrick Burton, pastor and program director at the Christian-based nonprofit Tustin Veterans Outpost run by the Orange County Rescue Mission, stands in front of the outpost's facility in Tustin, Calif., on May 25, 2023. (Rudy Blalock/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Burton—who is a mentor, pastor, teacher, and program director for the nonprofit’s programs—said the mission operates like a school campus, where those newly-accepted start as freshman and graduate as seniors.
Those staying at the Double R Ranch will have daily tasks to care for the animals and other farm duties alongside daily devotions, group therapy, and case management, according to Mr. Burton.
“The caring of animals helps them to have a sense of ownership, doing something that is very meaningful,” he said, likening it to having an emotional support animal.
Chief Ministry Officer Derrick Burton (L), chief ministry officer of the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission, assists a boy participating in the boys' camp at the Double R Ranch in San Diego County, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2019. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

Chief Ministry Officer Derrick Burton (L), chief ministry officer of the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission, assists a boy participating in the boys' camp at the Double R Ranch in San Diego County, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2019. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

The nonprofit’s work is to “minister the love of Jesus Christ to the Least, the Last, and the Lost,” according to its mission statement, but it also aims to aid individuals return to independent living.
“We are a back-to-work program. We want those that are coming in to be able to be reestablished in society, so that they can go back to work without having to depend on government assistance,” Mr. Burton said.
Students who graduate can apply to work for the Rescue Mission.
Formerly homeless veteran Samuel Johnson works as a cook in the cafeteria of the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, Calif., on June 18, 2019. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

Formerly homeless veteran Samuel Johnson works as a cook in the cafeteria of the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, Calif., on June 18, 2019. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

Lodging and a kitchen are already ready at the new ranch, but a timeline for opening is yet to be determined pending final county approval and permits.
According to a 2018 study by the peer-reviewed journal Military Medical Research, therapeutic horseback riding has proven effects to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder commonly found in military veterans.
Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, which is an online forum, also published a study in 2015 attributing horse-assisted therapy as effective in longer durations of treatment for substance abusers and higher treatment completion rates.
A boy participates in the boys' camp at the Double R Ranch operated by the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission, in San Diego County, Calif. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

A boy participates in the boys' camp at the Double R Ranch operated by the Christian-based nonprofit Orange County Rescue Mission, in San Diego County, Calif. (Courtesy of Orange County Rescue Mission)

Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.