TREMONTON - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, September 22, 2022
Spencer Smith has had to deal with a lot in his life, from his own bouts with depression to watching loved ones lose similar battles to suicide. Because of that, this one-time construction worker felt God directed him to begin Double S Ranch Just for Kids seven years ago in Idaho.
Today, along with partner Trudi Perkins, he operates the same equine therapy service, now calling it the Crossing Arrows Ranch in Tremonton. He and Perkins are using horses to help their clients “gain and sharpen life skills through interactive experiences.”
Their mission statement says Crossing Arrows Ranch is available “to provide support to people of all ages that are struggling with their own unique circumstances through horse-based therapy. We provide them with nature-focused experiences that build the skills necessary to face challenges they experience in live.”
Smith said, like the Crossing Arrows logo, people often come to a crossroads and have to make choices.
“I believe you come to the center of anything in life and sometimes you get stuck. You can either go one way and make your life better or you can continue on the same difficult path and not change.”
He feels their therapy services can help their clients take the positive path.
“We are real people who have experienced our own personal challenges. We do not pretend to be perfect, but we will show you what resilience is. We focus on empowerment and teaching you how to build upon your strengths to face your own challenges,” the website continued.
The ranch, located south of the Tremonton City Cemetery, has 14 horses suitable for both youth and adults, horses that clients can interact with. They are hoping to increase that number to 25. Smith said the equine program allows even the most novice of horsemen a chance to “interact through a number of activities, including brushing and grooming them before getting up in the saddle.”
Perkins is the therapy side of the duo and hopes to work one on one with clients when they are not horseback. She is planning on hosting support groups, as well, as the facility grows.
Smith said many have already taken advantage of what Crossing Arrows offers, with encouraging results. He tells of one young Box Elder County teen who had fallen behind in school and had difficulty focusing. After working with him as he cared for then rode one of the ranch horses, Smith said his reading levels increased, as did his attentiveness at school.
“I am no expert,” Smith said, “but I believe this type of interaction is a way to rewire our brains, helping us focus.” A similar process helps keep seniors alert and Smith said they have often taken their smallest four-legged “nurse,” named Valentino, to visits at assisted living facilities. “Those people just light up when I bring him in.”
Perkins said the same light appears with clients who have struggled in the past with feelings of being unwanted, unloved or alone and who find their way to Crossing Arrows.
“We want those who come here to have a sense of belonging,” Perkins said, adding that when a person feels comfortable, feels at home or fits in, then those anxiety triggers and suicidal thoughts go away. “Our goal is to help and bring joy to someone’s life, provide happiness all over. We just do it with horses.”
To find out more about Crossing Arrows, visit their website crossingarrowsranch.org or email them at crossingarrowsranch.gmail.com. While there is a charge for the service, those who are not financially able can apply for scholarships that are taken care of through donations, corporate sponsorships and fundraising efforts by the pair.
All veterans who enroll are taken on free of charge, without question. “I think they already paid for our freedom,” Smith reasoned.