Tehya and the Veteran

Tehya and the Veteran

A story about healing together through meaningful connections between horses and veterans at Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue.

Written by Dan and Gloria Timmons – Founders of Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue

Tehya’s journey from being auctioned off to finding a home at Allegiance Ranch is a touching tale of resilience, trust, and healing. From the moment she was rescued from a dark and uncertain fate, Tehya’s story is marked by encounters with people who showed her kindness and patience.

At the auction, Tehya felt scared and alone, treated as nothing more than a commodity. However, her rescue by the compassionate individuals from Allegiance Ranch marked the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Despite her initial wariness, Tehya gradually learns to trust her new caretakers as they provide her with food, shelter, and, most importantly, kindness.

As Tehya settles into her new home, she discovers the joy of companionship and the satisfaction of helping others. When visitors, particularly veterans struggling with PTSD like herself, come to the ranch seeking solace, Tehya senses their pain and offers them comfort in her own gentle way.

For one veteran in particular, Tehya becomes a source of unexpected solace. Despite his initial skepticism about equine therapy, he finds himself drawn to Tehya’s calm presence. In a moment of vulnerability, he allows himself to open up to Tehya, finding comfort in her silent understanding and gentle demeanor. Through their connection, he experiences a profound sense of relief and hope, realizing that perhaps there is a path to healing beyond medication and traditional therapy.

Tehya’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of compassion, connection, and the human-animal bond. In her journey from auction to Allegiance Ranch, Tehya not only finds a place to call home but also discovers her purpose in helping others find healing and peace.

Tehya’s Journey from Auction to Allegiance Ranch: Tehya tells her story

It’s dark and I feel funny, like everything feels and looks fuzzy. It’s quiet now and I’m alone in this dark place. Earlier there was so much going on. So many people and horses. They made me walk through a crowd while a man talked about me as if I were a piece of meat. It was so scary and I didn’t know what was going to happen. Then they put me in this stall and here I am, hours later, the last and only horse. Did they forget about me? Why am I not at home? The man was mean to me but at least he fed me. I’m all alone now.

Suddenly I see headlights. A truck and a trailer pull up. Is that the man coming back for me? No, four people got out of the truck. I don’t know them but I don’t feel afraid. I can feel they are excited and a little nervous, just like me. They come up to me and start talking softly…they’re telling me how beautiful I am and that I’m safe now. I’m so tired and still feel funny from the shot the man gave me, but I’m happy I’m not alone. Can I trust them? One of the girls comes into my stall, rubs my neck, and tries to put a halter on me, but it doesn’t fit. I hear them talking but I’m so tired and I’m hungry. I see the trailer and I just want to leave this dark, scary place. I think they’re afraid I’m going to run away if they open the stall door. The girl loops the lead rope around my neck and opens the door. I head straight to the trailer and get in. I just want to leave this place. The trailer ride isn’t very long and I can’t see anything when we stop driving. They put me in a pen with hay and water, and that’s all I care about for now.

The sun is coming up, making the snow on the ground sparkle. I still feel a little funny but also a little better. I look around and see other horses watching me from across the field. I don’t recognize them. This is a strange, new place. Will I be safe here? I see someone coming. It’s the man from last night. He gives me hay and talks to me nicely. I’m not afraid but I’m still wary. I eat. A little later the woman from last night comes out, she talks to me softly and tells me I’m safe and loved, and that I don’t have to be afraid anymore. I want to believe her but I’m not sure I can. A little later she comes again and brushes me a little, I let her but I’m tense…waiting for her to hurt me. She doesn’t. I think she’s a little afraid of me too. They feed me again at dinner time and the woman puts a blanket on me, she says it’s going to be cold tonight.

I’ve been at this ranch place for a while now. I like it. The people are nice. The woman gives me little bites of deliciousness she calls treats. The only time I get nervous is when people come to make me work. The man where I used to live would hurt me if I didn’t do work the right way. I’m afraid these people will hurt me too, but they don’t. Maybe this place is different. Lots of people come to see me and the other horses. They talk to us nicely. They brush us and clean our stalls, and take us for walks. But sometimes these different people come. They feel different, like they are hurting and afraid like I used to be. When they come up to me, I try to be quiet. I let them whisper to me and rub me. I don’t understand what they say, but I can feel that I’m helping. I like that feeling of helping. I feel like they need me and maybe that is why I’m here.

A Veterans Perspective Upon Visiting Allegiance Ranch

My alarm goes off almost 45 minutes after I fall asleep. Tossing and turning all night, feeling restless, knowing I have to face the day sooner than later. This morning will be a change from my normal routine of getting up and commuting straight to my civilian job where I feel like they don’t understand me. They don’t understand that I’m dealing with life after the military the best way I can. Some days are better but recently things have been spinning out of control and getting worse. It has really made it stressful for me to continue working.

I tried to get an appointment at the VA Hospital but they are so backed up that I cannot get an appointment for at least two more months. I am not sure how much they can help me with the nightmares anyway. The last time I reached out for help, they gave me medication that made me feel strange and never really helped my symptoms from PTSD. It just made it harder for me to work full time at my job. I need that job because it helps me support my kids and wife. I really want to give them a better life. I need to take care of them.

Today I’m visiting an equine therapy group on a small ranch in Erie called Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue. I read on their website that they have horses that have been rescued from dire situations, escaping cruel deaths in the horse slaughter pipeline and abusive owners that treated them horribly wrong. I learned about Allegiance from another veteran I met that talked about how he felt better spending quiet time grooming and walking horses at the ranch. I’m not sure I believe what he’s saying is true. Nothing has worked so far but I know I do not want any more prescriptions that make me feel strange. I feel like I am running out of options and I really hope this equine therapy helps.

As I pull into the driveway, I notice there is a large neighborhood and I’m not sure where they even keep horses. I see other cars parked by a white building so I park there too. I am greeted by one of the owners and he directs me to the back of the property. As I walk around two small, red buildings, I catch a glimpse of three horses standing together watching me approach. I am led through the gate to meet the horses. The therapist says their names are Monty, Mariposa, and Tehya. Tehya is a big horse; they tell me she’s a draft cross weighing around 1200 pounds. She is standing behind Monty and Mariposa and seems very quiet, but she’s watching me with the kindest, gentlest eyes. I’m not sure why, but I feel like she wants to help me with the pain I am dealing with. I feel like she sees into my soul.

I have no idea why but I start feeling very emotional and begin to openly weep right there in front of these horses. I tell myself, “pull your shit together and do not show any weakness”. The therapist tells me to breathe and walk up to one of the horses. I take a step and Tehya pushes forward between Monty and Mariposa and walks up to me. She puts her head down in front of me. I hug her neck, press my hands into her warm coat, and hold onto her for a short time. I stop crying and start feeling better. I have no idea why I am feeling less stressed.All I know is I’m feeling much better than when I drove onto this ranch. I spend several more minutes hugging and murmuring to Tehya. After the session is over I get back into my car and drive out the front gate. I feel like I might be able to get through my job today without any triggers. I’m looking forward to visiting Tehya again as soon as I can.

Your contribution isn’t just a donation; it’s a lifeline for horses and veterans. Thank you for making a positive impact in their lives.

Choose an option below to make a donation in support of our mission.