Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots. Helping LOCAL Veterans get LOCAL jobs on LOCAL horse farms. Meet the men and women you are helping.

-Horse in Miracles | Ocklawaha, Florida

At Ease Veteran Program

The Outside of a Horse is Good for the Inside of a Veteran! Horse in Miracles, Ocklawaha, Florida

Ocklawaha, Florida The Outside of a Horse is Good for the Inside of a Veteran!

Ocklawaha, Florida The Outside of a Horse is Good for the Inside of a Veteran!


Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots is a 40 hour hands-on training program to help Veterans find a new profession that they can value the rest of their lives. They will be learning about horse safety and handling (and how unique and fun horses are!), horse care and farm equipment and maintenance. With over 600 horse farms in the area, jobs are available for Veterans already who have proven work ethic. Farms are stepping forward to support our program and give our Veterans priority in hiring for new positions.

The outdoor, active, hands-on training will culminate in an Equine Specialist Certificate. It is scheduled 2 days a week, 4 hours a day, five weeks. All aspects of horse care will be covered, including shoeing, safe handling, equine psychology, feeding, medications, vital signs, lameness and stall cleaning. Also included is training and experience with basic farm tools and equipment, such as zero turn lawn mowers, weed eaters, pressure washers and manure spreaders. 


We offer individualized reintegration program for returning Veterans and their families, as well as individualized sessions for Vietnam Veterans looking to heal more fully from the effects of returning from war.

There is never any charge to Veterans for any of our services (even our drop in "Hug and Groom" times!). But we need your support.  Remember this is a LOCAL organization helping LOCAL Veterans.   Please consider donating TODAY!

$500 covers the entire cost of a Veteran from training to job placement.

Perhaps you know of a group or an organization that would like to sponsor a Veteran. We would be happy to give a presentation or invite you to visit our ranch. Please call for more info. 352-239-3484

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Article in The Sun - Program teaches...

(03/10/2014) Dan Bassett, Lugene TharpeDan Bassett, who served in the Coast Guard, puts a lead on Dreamer while Lugene Tharpe, who served in the Marine Corps, looks on at Sugar Plum Ranch in Ocklawaha. The veterans are participating in the Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots nonprofit program founded by Jen Elliott.OCKLAWAHA — Perry Davis returned physically unscathed from his service overseas. But his medicine cabinet told a different story.“I was deployed seven times, and when I came back they put me on Zoloft, they put me on Paxil, they put me on Xanax, even Prozac, but nothing really worked,” said the Ocala resident, who served 10 years in the U.S. Navy. “I was always high strung, always depressed.”With unseen wounds, Davis struggled to make the transition from military to civilian life until he found a community program supported in part by Villagers.“I’m not (physically) wounded, so I get passed over a lot,” Davis said. “But I need just as much help as someone missing their legs. I’ve been out for two years, and it’s still difficult sometimes.”Recently, however, his medicine cabinet hasn’t been touched.“I started working with horses, and I don’t need to take my medication anymore,” Davis said. “(The horses) help out with anxiety. That’s why I do it. It’s very therapeutic.”For the past five weeks, Davis, along with three other post-9/11 veterans, has participated in Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots, a nonprofit in the area dedicated to helping veterans like him make the transition into civilian life.“These are kids who, at 17, went into the military because they had no other choice,” said Jen Elliott, founder of the Ocklawaha-based nonprofit. “They had no skills, experience, education. They went over there. They had a traumatic experience. They still come back with no skills, experience, education.”Throughout the five-week course, veterans are taught a variety of horse-handling skills, from grooming to training.“(The program) dives into a lot of information that we wouldn’t get without getting training,” said Lugene Tharpe, a Marine Corps veteran who lives in Ocala. “You don’t know how to touch a horse, how to come at a horse, how to show them direction, how to avoid the bad things that makes them do bad things. This five-week program helps you know those little things.”Because of the program’s success with the veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 1036 in The Villages has enthusiastically agreed to support Elliott’s efforts.“It’s one thing to give organizations money, but what has been exciting about her efforts is that she’s developing a skill set with the veterans,” said the chapter’s president, Harry Lumpkin, of the Village of Hadley. “We were just so impressed; we wanted to be a part of that.”While the veterans in Elliott’s program learn the ins and outs of proper horse care, they also often find themselves developing deep bonds with the animals.“It gets into you,” Tharpe said. “It’s kind of like the movie, “Avatar,” when they connect their hair.”The bond is one that Elliott has watched play out over and over again.“It’s amazing when they tell you how much they bond with the horses,” Elliott said. “A lot of guys who come back aren’t ready to bond. But horses are safe. I’m not opposed to medication, but I think you can heal from love.”This healing power of love is something that Elliott values.When Coast Guard veteran Dan Bassett fell into financial difficulties, Elliott immediately stepped forward to help.“When I first started the program, I had just moved here and didn’t have the gas money to get here,” said Bassett, of Silver Springs. “She automatically offered to help. I explained my situation, and she offered to give me gas money. Any help that I need, I would just call Jen.”In addition to teaching a variety of skills to the veterans, Elliott also makes a point to help them find jobs.“I’ll set up an interview with a farm, and I’ll talk to the farm and match the guy up,” she explained. “So before they go, the employer already likes them.”Two of the four veterans who participated in the most recent Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots session already have acquired new jobs thanks to Elliott’s help.“Jen Elliott is a wonderful woman,” Tharpe said. “She’s there when you need help, not only the horse part of it, but any help outside the school itself.”All four of the veterans who graduated from the course on Tuesday now aspire to become useful assets while working on a horse farm.“As the weeks have gone by, it’s the best thing I could have done just for myself experience-wise,” Bassett said. “Obviously, I don’t want to muck stalls all the time, and I would like to be able to handle horses, groom them, run them around the pen and learn to ride, because it seems like that would be the best thing.”Link to article:

Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots

(08/01/2013) Combat Boots to Cowboy BootsA Special Equine Vocational Program for Veterans Coming SeptemberIf you are a Veteran, and like animals and working outdoors, Horse in Miracles, Inc. has created a special training program for you!Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots Equine Professional Program is a 40 hour, five week hands on, ,outdoor course program which allows you to practice the basics of horse handling and horse cafe. Your will learn grooming, ranch maintenance, equine behavior and psychology. It will prepare you for an immediate position on a local ranch. The course is especially designed to assist Veterans with readjustment needs. Horse in Miracles will help you bring your skills to a new career. The program is located in Ocklawaha, Fl. and is limited to eight Veterans per five week program. You will need transportation to get to and from the program. Program Schedule:Tuesdays, 9am - 1pm and Thursdays, 1-5pmTo Sign up, go to Combat Boots to Cowboys Boots or contact:WorkForce Connection, Lead Local Veterans Employment Representative, Kim Smith at 352-732-1700, ext 2225Horse in Miracles, Program Director, Jen Elliott at 352-239-3484

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