BOZEMAN – The unusual amount of snow is to blame for the collapse of a horse arena at a Bozeman nonprofit dedicated to helping women veterans.
The Serenity Ranch also rescues mistreated and wild horses. Without the arena, the ranch is left without a place to train them.
“I didn’t hear it and I just came down here in the morning, on Saturday morning [March 2], and it had collapsed,” says Susanne Carter, owner and executive director of Serenity Ranch.
Carter says the sight of her nonprofit’s prized arena, twisted and smashed, was almost too much to take in.
“I just kind of burst into tears but was very thankful there were no horses in there and no people and nobody was injured,” Carter says.
Susanne’s ranch houses about 90 horses, all trained to help women veterans cope with PTSD and other trauma.
Without the building, that mission has hit a roadblock.
“It was our arena,” Carter says. “It’s where we trained our horses, we rode in there, kept my hay in there. It was just an all-around amazing building that was very integral to how we run this place.”
Carter adds that the arena will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace but beyond the monetary value, to both veterans and horses, it means so much more.
“You can’t put a price on changing someone’s life and this is what it is about,” says Rick Franco, COO of Heroes and Horses, another organization that helps veterans like himself.
Franco says they, too, relied on the arena.
“Without Susanne and the Serenity Ranch and this arena, we don’t know where we would be as an organization,” Franco says. “For five years, her grace has allowed us to train horses and put veterans through the program.”
“It’s very serene. It’s very calming,” Carter says. “They could go out and mess with the horse, any horse, whenever they wanted. Lots of freedom.”
Now, Carter says donations and the help of volunteering could make all the difference.
She adds that her mission will not be stopped by snow.
“This place is a wonderful place,” Carter says. “Everybody is welcome here.”
Both Serenity Ranch and Heroes and Horses are accepting donations to help.
Carter says you could also help by becoming a volunteer at the ranch.
Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News