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After conquering the poles on the ground, barn manager Tatum Thelander congratulates Maxwell on a job well done.

Featured Article

Healing with Horses.

To little riders healing, these large and gentle animals often bring peace and wonder.

Tucked away in the middle of Tucson, children of all ages can take part in the variety of services offered by TRAK Ranch. Since 2007, TRAK has provided therapeutic and fun experiences by, in the words of barn manager Tatum Thelander, “bringing the Western way of life back to Tucson.” From summer camps to equine therapy, TRAK has a program for everyone.

Referred to as “TRAK magic” by program director Chelsea Menke, the calming energy the horses hold is instantly felt upon stepping on the property. According to Menke, the feeling of safety children get allows them to open up and grow through their animal interactions.

It was relay race day at camp, and groups of children were eagerly lined up, ready to take on the obstacle course in front of them. The course, which included walking over poles, weaving in between poles, and turning around a barrel, represented a culmination of skills the children learned throughout the week. Their confidence shone through their little faces, as practically every child dismounted their horse with a grin. 

Clementine, 10, started off at camp feeling nervous around the horses. As she spent more time with them, she shared her excitement about finally understanding everything, saying, “I felt really good.” She loves riding and grooming horses, and her favorite horse is Hollywood.

Ezra, 7, loves all of the animals at TRAK. When he’s riding horses, he said he feels happy. His favorite part of camp is, “petting [the horses] and riding the horses.”

Liam, 12, also shared Clementine’s feelings about being nervous. But he said that “the horses are really calming for some reason”, and now his favorite thing to do is go fast! He enjoys spending time with the horses, and his proudest moment at camp was when he almost cantered!

Athena, 8, loves to “walk on the horses.” She loves every part of camp, but she especially loves, “riding the horses, picking up chickens, and petting the rabbits.” She said walking isn’t super bouncy, and that her favorite horse is Monyoso.

“The animals are happy,” Thelander explained, “so you’re happy.” 

That happiness is available for children of all ages to access, with horsemanship programs beginning at age 4. One special program, though, stands out in particular to Menke. After partnering with the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA), TRAK established a therapeutic riding program for Tucson’s LGBTQ+ youth. Menke saw a need for a safe space and a sense of community, and sought to create a solution by employing “TRAK magic”.

Want to experience it for yourself? Just come on down! Free tours are offered for people who want to see what TRAK is all about, and their website holds details on their volunteer orientations for those looking to get more involved. 

After spending a day on the property, I can confirm that TRAK magic is real.

  • TRAK volunteer Annie Horvath stands with one of the horses used during the summer camp program.
  • Athena, one of the summer camp kiddos, expertly handles her horse over an obstacle course of poles.
  • Callie is happily led through the obstacle course by TRAK volunteer Alex Harvey.
  • All smiles from Ezra as he finishes up his turn through the horseback relay!
  • Isadora works hard to take Hollywood’s saddle off after a fun day of horseback riding.
  • Levi, Liam, Kailyn, and Amelia eagerly await their turn for the relay.
  • After conquering the poles on the ground, barn manager Tatum Thelander congratulates Maxwell on a job well done.