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Meet Vanessa Kohnen of Rancho Milagro Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Kohnen.

Vanessa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Rancho Milagro was started in my heart about 20 years ago. I came from an abusive childhood by several abusers. With that, my youth was spent in my horses stall. Horses saved my life on several occasions, and I am thankful for the lessons I learned.

After running from my trauma, I finally came to a place in my life where I knew it was time to face my demons. It was a dark time in my life, deep depression, and even suicidal thoughts… I started to go to Rio Verde and spend time with the Wild Horses. They were the bridge between God whom I was not talking too and a future of restoration and even freedom. That is when the dream of a Ranch to help trauma survivors was launched in my heart — a place of refuge.

About six years ago, I was still in a place of hopelessness and an unknown future. That is when a counselor said, ” what do you want to do in your life”? I shared my heart, and off we went to the Dream Center in PHX, and we asked the girls if they wanted to come to hang out with the horses. And Rancho Milago was launched.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Definitely not a smooth road! Most of it has come from my own healing needing to be walked out. Within that, I have learned valuable lessons. The main struggle is me not tripping over myself and getting in the way. Being confident in who I am and what I am here to do — being a survivor serving survivors.

Please tell us about Rancho Milagro Foundation.
Rancho Milagro (ranch of miracles) is a non-profit, faith-based ministry formulated to bring Equine Therapy and Healing to survivors of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, Veterans of Foreign wars suffering from “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (p.t.s.d.), as well as a place of rest and solitude for the wonderful and gifted people and Leaders who work with these survivors on a daily basis. We bring Trauma survivors into the arena of life.

Our passion is to help those who have been forced into sex trafficking and the survivors of any traumatic experience that has left one hopeless. In addition, we serve veterans who are struggling with PTSD. Or anyone who struggles on a day to day basis.

Our “therapy couch” is a bench in a barn surrounded by high desert mountains. There is a peace and calm among the sounds and smells in the barn that cannot be found in a stuffy office with a ticking clock. Our trained staff includes Licensed Therapists, Pastoral Counseling, Life Coaches and an experienced equine specialist.

It is our goal to help our clients learn to deal with their anger and manage the emotions associated with severe trauma. Equine therapy may be just the thing to get them back in the saddle of life. We are an organization founded by a survivor serving survivors.

Is there anyone, in particular, you would like to recognize? Mentors, etc.?
First, I need to give credit to God. Without sounding like the typical, He truly saved my life. I would not be here if it weren’t for my personal relationship and horses.

Second would be my knowledge of horses from my mom. And then, of course, my husband for believing in me.

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