Buckaroos on the Mountain Help Build Trust and Create Changes in Teens
Summertime offers an exciting opportunity for students at Turn-About Ranch — a residential therapeutic treatment center for teens in Escalante, Utah— to put their skills into practice as they undertake cattle round-ups on the Boulder Mountain and Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. The cattle must be moved on horseback between three allotted grazing pastures on the forest service property, each hundreds of acres in size. Students check the well-being of the cattle, making sure they are healthy, safe, and have adequate feed and water. The Ranch calls the process a “Buckaroo” and the students will only have the opportunity to do it once or twice in their 100-day stay. The students prepare for this experience by riding horses on trails and in the arena, and by learning all aspects of the anatomy of their horse, care for it, and the handling of it.
Ranching brings an important aspect to Turn-About’s program as it is based on meaningful, productive hard work, personal responsibility and individual accountability. Rounding up cattle on the mountain brings a whole new dimension to therapy as the students learn confidence that they can do hard things. One student made the comment she couldn’t round up all the cows by herself. She had to trust her horse, and needed the other staff and students to do their part. It was only together that they were able to accomplish such a hard task.
One visiting mom asked, “How does this translate to coming home?” The teen answered the question by saying she felt she could better communicate and work with her parents after learning to move cattle on the mountain. Having to work, depend on, trust, and communicate with the staff and other students helped her realize that the people she has around her influence her. They can either help her or get in the way. It’s up to her who she puts on her team when she gets home.
Program Director Michelle Lindsey, LCMHC, said, “Much of what students need to learn requires what we call ‘Grit.’… The changes teens want to make in our program can be challenging, yet when interviewed about their experience at Turn-About, the vast majority are proud of their accomplishments and feel the work and accountability portion of the program is essential to its success. Developing grit, self-confidence, an increased belief in their own capabilities and perseverance is life-changing.”
About Turn-About Ranch
Founded in 1989, Turn-About Ranch is licensed as a wilderness therapy program and residential treatment center by the State of Utah’s Health and Human Services. It is nationally accredited by CARF. Located in the heart of Southern Utah’s canyon country surrounded by multiple national parks like Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The admissions office is available for any questions at (800) 842-1165 between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm Mountain Standard Time.