Colorado Therapy gets help for expansion project |

Colorado Therapy gets help for expansion project

George Zadel, one of the students in Johnstown/Milliken Re-5J School District’s special education program for students ages 18-21, leans into one of the horses back in May at the Colorado Therapy Horses in Greeley. The equine therapy program focuses on building bonds with the horse rather than on riding. File photo
Nikki Work/ |

Doug Dennison has seen how equine therapy can help a person, and now he’s doing his part to help one therapy company help plenty of other people.

Dennison is the environmental and government affairs liaison for Bill Barrett Corp. — a company that is giving about 50 acres of land to Colorado Therapy Horses at a super-discounted rate.

Richard McMahan, CEO and co-founder of Colorado Therapy Horses, has been searching for a new location to expand so he can help more people with his horses. He plans to close on the property in Eaton, Colo., soon.

Bill Barrett Corp. is selling the land for about 24 percent of the appraised value. According to paperwork from Colorado Therapy Horses, only $125,000 will be paid out of the appraised cost of $535,000.

For Dennison, it was a no-brainer to see his company helping Colorado Therapy Horses find a new home.

“It was a natural fit,” Barrett said.

Colorado Therapy Horses helps anyone who needs therapy from big, gentle creatures. The horses at the center are all Trakehners. Trakehners get their name from a town in the East Prussia, where the breed was originally developed.

These horses are calm and comfortable around humans because they have never been ridden.

Throughout the years, McMahan said, people have inquired about donating horses, but they’re the only donation the nonprofit won’t accept.

Colorado Therapy Horses treats a variety of clients. They work with schools, veterans and those who need community service hours, along with anyone else in need at any time of the year. That’s why this expansion is necessary. The new land will allow the company to build an indoor arena so people can get therapy year-round — not just in warmer weather.


McMahan said the hope is for the new facility to also include dorm rooms and a dining hall.

Part of the facility will be multi-purpose so it can be used for a variety of needs or events. Plans also include the possibility of the kitchen and dining hall being used in ways outside of therapy.

But the expansion is primarily to help those who come, needing a way to work out problems they face in a way that doesn’t involve a couch.

After the building is complete and horses are on the new property, the plan is to help veterans, students and parolees, among others. Even further down the line, McMahan has a plan to incorporate a petting zoo.


Equine therapy has become a destination for veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael Ackelson, also known as Marine Mike, is a veteran who did an internship at Colorado Therapy Horses, starting in 2014, and he has “been there ever since.”

Ackelson has lost some of his military-brothers to suicide, and he knows that having a place where they can get help can make all the difference. Part of what contributes to a sense of loss for returning veterans is the change in those around them — they no longer have the community of soldiers around them every day.

“When you get out, you loose that community,” he said. “We’re bringing back that community.”

The dorm rooms will be available for family members who want to stay and go through the therapy together — not just leaving the veteran by themselves through the therapy.

For Ackelson, who has seen first-hand the positive results from equine therapy especially with veterans, the expansion is so important.

“A lot of people we treat are cast away by society,” Ackelson said. “They’re one horse meet away to help make things better.” ❖

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Protecting landowners from government overreach


Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has reintroduced the Defense of Environment and Property Act and all of us in the agriculture industry need to get behind this legislation. We also need to urge our representatives in…

See more