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Horse arena collapses at Bozeman nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans

BOZEMAN — The unusual amount of snow this winter is to blame for the collapse of a horse arena at a Bozeman nonprofit dedicated to helping women veterans.

The Serenity Ranch also rescues mistreated and wild horses. Without the arena, the ranch is left without a place to train them.

“I didn’t hear it, and I just came down here in the morning, on Saturday morning [March 2], and it had collapsed,” said Susanne Carter, owner and executive director of Serenity Ranch.

Carter said the sight of her nonprofit’s prized arena, twisted and smashed, was almost too much to take in.

“I just kind of burst into tears but was very thankful there were no horses in there and no people and nobody was injured,” Carter says.

Susanne’s ranch houses about 90 horses, all trained to help women veterans cope with PTSD and other trauma.

Without the building, the mission has hit a roadblock.

“It was our arena,” Carter said. “It’s where we trained our horses, we rode in there, kept my hay in there. It was just an all-around amazing building that was very integral to how we run this place.”

Carter added the arena will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace but beyond the monetary value, to both veterans and horses, it means so much more.

“You can’t put a price on changing someone’s life and this is what it is about,” said Rick Franco, COO of Heroes and Horses, another organization that helps veterans like himself.

Franco said they too relied on the arena.

“Without Susanne and the Serenity Ranch and this arena, we don’t know where we would be as an organization,” Franco said. “For five years, her grace has allowed us to train horses and put veterans through the program.”

“It’s very serene. It’s very calming,” Carter said. “They could go out and mess with the horse, any horse, whenever they wanted. Lots of freedom.”

Now, Carter said donations and the help of volunteering could make all the difference.

She added her mission will not be stopped by snow.

“This place is a wonderful place,” Carter said. “Everybody is welcome here.”

Both Serenity Ranch and Heroes and Horses are accepting donations to help. Carter said you could also help by volunteering at the ranch.

You can get more information about how to do so by visiting the Serenity Ranch and Heroes and Horses websites.

-Reported by Cody Boyer/MTN News

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