At a Therapeutic Ranch, No Payday Until Later

As I set a spade to dirt, I thought back to the moment I had arrived at this dusty working ranch in southern Utah. I stepped off the plane knowing very little about what lay ahead — only that this rehabilitation program would include long periods of hard labor.

It was 2007, and my parents had sent me to this therapeutic ranch, which was three hours south of Salt Lake City. I’d spent more than a year away in similar programs and lockups, but nothing quite like this.

I was into drugs and disregarding authority figures. The ranch sought to use equine therapy, combined with working therapy, to teach teenagers like me how to manage their anger, anxiety, depression and unhealthy impulses.

It used to be that young troublemakers were sent to their grandparents’ house to develop discipline and a work ethic. Now some parents, if they could afford it, sent their troubled children to physically intensive outdoor programs around the country. To read more from KENNETH R. ROSEN, click here.