Bayfield Ranch Offers Horse Therapy for Mental Illness, Drug Abuse

Dude ranch converted to center for people with mental illness, drug addiction

By David Olinger
The Denver Post

POSTED:   04/18/2016 | UPDATED: 04/18/2016

Dawn Solomon became addicted to horses at a riding stable in Aurora.

Now she hopes that love, along with her counseling degree, can help people with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance addiction.

She, along with investors, is betting a ranch that horse therapy can help.

They acquired a dude ranch, perhaps appropriately called Wit’s End Ranch Resort and Spa, near the southwestern Colorado community of Bayfield, for $2.85 million. They invested $471,000 on improvements.

They say their equine therapy ranch, which opened April 1, will be the first residential facility in the state for people with this dual diagnosis, and they hope to start accepting residents this week.

“Horse therapy is the attraction,” said Vincent Franco, a lawyer and investor who hopes to bring up to 50 clients at a time to the resort.

The facility has eight horses, two equine-assisted therapists and an experienced addiction counselor. Patients will get lessons in the care, handling and riding of horses in addition to standard psychotherapy.

The 66-acre resort also features fishing ponds, a tennis court, a swimming pool and a lodge for meetings, treatment and socializing.

This sort of therapy does not come cheap.

The costs for a 30-day treatment plan will range from $16,000 for self-paid clients to $20,000 for those with private health insurance and $30,000 for Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Franco said the facility expects military veterans with post-traumatic stress will be treated there as well.

For more information call the ranch at 970-884-5195.

David Olinger: 303-954-1498, or @dolingerdp