May 17, 2018

Restoration Ranch is a Refuge for Horses and Veterans: A Photo Story

Reporting Texas


Spring winds gently ripple through the leaves of 400-year-old live oak trees that stand proud on Restoration Ranch’s 22 and a half acres in Bastrop, Texas. It is currently home to 16 rescued horses that are partnered with veterans and their families in this holistic healing environment founded by Beth Rand in 2012.  

Restoration Ranch is stewarded by The Joyful Horse Project, also founded by Rand and classified as a 501c(3) organization.  

Rand, herself an accomplished equestrian and champion for animals, is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of horses in need. The horses come from myriad backgrounds, including abuse, neglect, waiting in a kill pen or being discarded at retirement or after being injured.   

What the horses need to heal often parallels what veterans need, according to Derek Knapp, the vice president, operations manager and executive director of Restoration Ranch. A former captain in the U.S. Army, Knapp is a combat veteran and lifelong horseman, which gives him an ability to bring horses and veterans together with the goal of healing both.  

The live oaks at Restoration Ranch canopy the waving grass, peppered with wildflowers. This is where the horses roam – sheltered, regaining health, and teaching veterans how to trust, breathe and heal.