Mar 22, 2010

NM Cattle Growers' Association Press Release

Program Brings Veterans, Ranchers Together

Horses for Heroes – Cowboy UP!, a Santa Fe-based program that uses horses and horseback riding to help treat soldiers returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, will start working with its first group of soldiers March 20.
“We are proud to support the Horses for Heroes Program, and look forward to playing a bigger role as the program grows,” said Bert Ancell, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) President, Bell Ranch. The NMCGA voted to support the program at its recent annual meeting.
Program founder and former Green Beret Rick Iannucci started out with a pilot program last year. “I saw a big need – soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are coming home in droves, and there are few outlets to help them,” he said. “We take regular people, send them over to Iraq and Afghanistan and train them how to fight. Then, we bring them home, sometimes without even a thank you, and expect them to turn it off and reintegrate automatically. It’s not happening.”
Today’s veterans see an average of 1500 days of combat, and go directly into combat when they land on the ground. In World War II, soldiers saw an average of 120 days of combat, and Vietnam Veterans saw an average of 240 - 260 days of combat.
Horses for Heroes – Cowboy UP! is staffed and operated by volunteers, many who are veterans themselves. Participants will learn to work with, care for, train and ride horses, work cattle, and experience the camaraderie of working with other veterans and ranchers. “Our program provides the veterans with the opportunity to recuperate, recreate and reintegrate into society and into our ranching community and cowboy culture,” Iannucci said.
Currently, ranchers including Mike Hobbs, Express UU Bar Ranch, Cimarron; Steve Price, Bonanza Creek Ranch, Santa Fe; Henry McKinley, Staple Cross Ranch, Santa Fe; Christina Savitsky, Pecos Bar X Ranch, Pecos; and Bob Frost, Caprock Creek Ranch, San Jon are involved in the program.
“Those serving in the armed forces are making enormous sacrifices, every day, to keep our families and country safe,” Ancell said. “As an organization and as individuals, we are glad to do all we can to help soldiers when they return home.”
The Horses for Heroes – Cowboy UP! program is the only program of this type nationally that is endorsed by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, according to Iannucci. “We want to show people what is possible, not what is probable,” he said.
Anyone interested in becoming a program partner can contact Horses For Heroes – Cowboy UP! through the website at or The program depends on donations, and hay, saddles and good working ranch horses are always needed. Online contributions can also be made through the websites.