Koda came to the Ranch Campus at 16 years old, so full of fight that the staff almost resorted to discharging him early for the safety of the other residents. “I had a whole bunch of anger problems,” he said, “It kind of ran in the family.” His home life on a rural ranch revolved around conflict with his mom and brothers, but fortunately, it also gave him a budding passion for horses and cowboy crafts. Koda credits the Ranch’s Equine Therapy with helping him understand for the first time that anger was something he could choose to control. Trauma can be transformed. Koda learned how to transform his trauma into something positive.
“It took a while,” he said, “but I learned. To be good with horses you have to keep a cool head, work with them patiently, keep your temper under control.” Rich also helped Koda develop his leather-braiding skills in the Ranch craft room. Koda stopped picking on the other kids and began to excel at school, graduating high school with a 4.2 GPA. Koda spent two-and-a-half years at the Ranch, and made great use of our Reintegration Services and Graduate Assistance program, earning college scholarships and a grant that helped him study leather braiding “with some of the best in the world.” He even had his work featured in Ranch & Riata Magazine while he was only 18.
These days, Koda works on a ranch in Wyoming as a horse trainer. He visits his family in Idaho about once a month, and says:
"Even though family relations aren’t always easy, without the Ranch, I probably wouldn’t have any sort of relationship with my family.”
Last year, Koda visited the Ranch Campus to lead a leather braiding class for the kids there. “We were proud to be able to tell the residents that this young man started his career right here,” said program director Jim Stockberger.
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