While inflation is making everything more expensive these days, $1,250 still goes a long way at Blue Star Ranch in Placerita Canyon.
The donation Friday by the Elks Riders for the Santa Clarita Valley Elks Lodge, No. 2379, in Canyon Country, will provide at least 10 therapy sessions for the nonprofit equine therapy ranch’s clients, said Sandy DeFrain, assistant director at Blue Star.
Weekly sessions that include a specially trained equine therapist typically cost the ranch around $100 each, DeFrain said, and the veterans usually go through about 10 sessions during the course of their treatment. The horses are specially trained as well, she added.
The sessions usually start with a veteran who chooses a horse to work with — and sometimes the horse chooses the veteran in a sense, too.
“And then they go out into an arena, which is like the equivalent of a private office, and the therapist will start talking to (the veteran), and the horses will be roaming around,” DeFrain said.
Over the course of the sessions, the veteran and the horse build a relationship as the veteran begins to set up a sort of basic obstacle course for the horse to navigate around in the arena, a process that provides healing for the veteran.
The horse instinctively stops at certain points of the course, and the therapist will pick up on the pause, DeFrain said.
“And lo and behold, it’ll be something that gives the veteran like an epiphany moment,” she said. “They’ll go, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and the challenge for (the veteran) is to take a 1,200- to 1,500-pound animal and learn to control this animal and maneuver this animal. It’s a very, very, very interesting process.”
For the Elks Riders, members of the Elks Lodge joined by their love of a good ride and helping children and veterans causes, sharing their donation Friday is one of the main reasons they get together, said Troy Mainwaring, one of the members.
The most recent donation from the riders comes from their West Coast Regional Meeting, which, like all their gatherings, raised the money to help a local cause.
“This is the fun part about it — is just giving back,” Mainwaring said, noting the group also meets throughout the year to join in rides that support affiliated causes.
Deana Princiotta, vice president of the group, said that while COVID-19 limited the number of events it could partake in over the last couple of years, the riders would be looking to be more active in the coming year.
Anyone who’d like to join the Elks Lodge can contact the local chapter through Elks.org or by calling 661-251-1500. Club members usually gather at the local lodge, located at 17766 Sierra Highway, after 4 p.m.
Blue Star Ranch is located at 20827 Placerita Canyon Road in Placerita Canyon. More information about the services offered is available at its website, BlueStarRanch.org.