August, 16 2018

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Boys ranch planning to rein in troubled teens

The boys ranch plans to start with five boys and add five more every seven weeks.

Three years in the making, Searle said he has put a program in place that will use natural horsemanship as the tool to help troubled boys work on their issues.

"We want to teach the boys to be horse whisperers, and in that process we're hoping that they learn about themselves and communication with their parents," said Searle, the managing general partner. "The idea is to use the horse as a mirror for the boys to become responsible and basically see themselves."

Boys 14-18 will train their own horse over a 10-month stay at the ranch. They will progress through five levels of natural horsemanship starting with horse psychology and groundwork and ending with riding their once green horse.

The program will breed 50 mares each year to provide the horses necessary for the next year. Searle says he has talked to people who are interested in donating breeding services.

With 26 years of experience in youth education and business, the current teacher for the LDS Institute of Religion on Arizona State University's Tempe campus said he has watched kids over the years go into all kinds of programs.

"Our therapy is using horses," said Searle, who has 15 years of experience with the animals and has seen first hand how they can reflect the issues of the person that is working with them. "It's not the only way to do it. It's just a way to do it, and I think it's an effective way and it can be a real powerful tool."

Searle said there are other horse therapy programs that teach kids how to be more responsible by caring for a horse, but he is unaware of any other program that gives a boy the opportunity to train a horse from start to finish using natural horsemanship.

"We're looking for the young man who their parents just don't know what to do," Searle said. "He's lying, he's stealing, he's out of control and their frustrated."

Application and enrollment for the program will take place at the ranch's office in Mesa. Once the boys arrive at the ranch, counselors, horse trainers, wranglers and a ranch director will guide them.

Searle said a non-profit foundation will form that will help supply scholarship money to youths who can't afford the program.

The program costs $3,000 per month.

"It's an expensive program, and we don't want it to be a rich kids camp," he said.

The boys coming to his ranch most likely will be from a city, hate horses and not want to be there, Searle said.

"We're really ready to deal with that those first couple months," he said. "By the end of the sixth or seventh month when he's actually galloping a horse across the field, when he's chasing cattle, when he's doing stuff he never thought he was ever going to do, he's a different kid then."

Information: www.arivaca

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