Horse Therapy Moves to Castaic

By Martha Michael

Kids, teens and young adults who need a little extra help, motivation or emotional support can still turn to the horses of SRD Straightening Reins. But instead of heading to a ranch in Canyon Country they are getting the help they need in Castaic.

SRD specializes in equine-assisted and interactive therapies designed to improve adolescent and teen mental health and wellbeing. The nonprofit has provided behavioral, educational and community outreach services to youth and their families in Los Angeles County since 2011. Professional staff members address emotional challenges and provide resources for youth, families, schools and the community at large. They promote recovery and resiliency by addressing behavioral problems, substance abuse, violence and communication issues.

Until recently, founder Deborah Rocha operated the horse ranch in the Sand Canyon area of Canyon Country, but now it is located in Castaic. The new site has a pasture for play and an arena for training in addition to the other catalysts for healing.

Like the population served by SRD Straightening Reins, the horses are sometimes rescued as well. It provides a beautiful picture of the synergistic relationship that occurs between the animal and the young person. They both meet needs for each other, developing a bond through an interchange of love and compassion.

Horses can reflect for others their negative and sometimes debilitating behaviors. This therapeutic interchange is an important mechanism to move toward health and wellbeing. A high-risk teen or young adult can process pain while caring for their equine therapy partner.
SRD offers schools the opportunity to conduct workshops on-site or at the SRD ranch. It is available to homeschoolers as well as other students in the area.

For more information, visit the website at