Suzy MacKenzie’s passion has always been helping people so, after 40 years in the mission field, she moved to Elizabeth and founded the Eagle’s Nest Equine Therapy Ranch. “We are a nonprofit …
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Suzy MacKenzie’s passion has always been helping people so, after 40 years in the mission field, she moved to Elizabeth and founded the Eagle’s Nest Equine Therapy Ranch.
“We are a nonprofit organization supported entirely by donations,” she said. “We always welcome anyone who wants to visit us, plus we schedule one day a month during the spring and summer for first responders, veterans and their children. That monthly event is called Buckaroo Day.”
Aug. 1 was Buckaroo Day at the ranch, and more than 50 adults and children took part in a variety of activities.
For example, while one young boy got acquainted with a horse, several other children painted the coat of another horse, while nearby children were taking part in stick horse races.
Shannon Simpson watched her daughter Mattie Hatchcock paint a horse.
“I brought my daughter out today because the ranch is kind enough to sponsor a first responders day” the Adams County firefighter-paramedic said. “I think this day is special because it is a great way to get outdoors and bond with my daughter on a different level.”
The Littleton resident said her daughter loved all that was going on.
“She hasn’t stopped smiling since I told her we were coming out here,” Simpson said. “This the first time she has ever been on a ranch and she is just loves it and loves being around the horses. I think it is wonderful that these people are willing to open the ranch and hold these activities for our children.”
Marine veteran Chris Boyer said he comes to the ranch because being there relieves the stress from his service in the first Gulf War.
“I have post-traumatic stress disorder and I have coming here for about four years,” he said. “I come to the ranch because working with Suzy and the horses grounds me and brings me a sense of peace I normally don’t have.”
The Highlands Ranch resident said he grew up in Minnesota until he was 12, when the family moved to Colorado.
“I wasn’t raised around horses so this was a new experience for me,” he said. “The horses are fun, particularly when they do what you ask them to do. The ranch is an important part of my life and I come here for therapy as well as to volunteer to help others who come here.”
He said he feels blessed that he can help other veterans who come to the ranch.
“I feel I know what people, particularly the veterans and first responders, are going through because I have been there,” he said. “I do my best to help them as much as I can.”
MacKenzie said she started Eagle’s Nest Ranch to help people who were facing difficult times in their lives.
“I grew up with a lot of turmoil in my life, my parents divorced and my mother eventually took her own life,” she said. “But I have always had a passion for horses, and when I came back from the mission field I heard about the Crystal Peaks Horse Ranch in the state of Washington that adopted abused horses and trained them to become therapy horses when they were paired with children who are having difficulties in their lives. I decided that was something I would like to do.”
She found the location near Elizabeth when she and the volunteers opened and began operating the ranch in 2014.
“We are a faith-based organization,” MacKenzie said. “We do what we do because I believe we are providing the opportunity to be around horses for those having a difficult time in their lives. We hope this will set the tone and our prayer is God will do the healing.”
She said the ranch is on leased land but that will change in September.
“We have been blessed with the donation of 40 acres of land that include a house and a barn with stalls for our horses that is just a few miles from where we are now,” she said. “It is a great blessing and a huge benefit to our program.”
She said the new location is complete but the ministry still needs a horse trailer and pickup.
For more information or to contact the ranch, go to the website at www.eaglesnestranch.org.
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