Episode 344 Zachary Leyden Equestrian Therapy for Veterans Transcript

This transcript is from episode 344 with guest Zachary Leyden.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody, welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio, and today my guest is Zachary Layden. Zachary is the founder of Oceanview Stables, where military veterans ride for free in an attempt to get more veterans to feel the healing attributes of horses. And we’ll talk about more… about that in just a minute.

But first, uh, welcome to the show, Zachary. I’m really glad to have you here.

Zachary Leyden: Thanks for having me on. I’m excited to explain what we do.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I guess, uh, for the listeners maybe who aren’t familiar with you and your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Zachary Leyden: Sure. So I am, uh, I guess a businessman [00:01:00] entrepreneur.

I am a horse trainer. I follow the natural horsemanship style and I’m a military veteran. Um, I went from military. I had my struggles when I came back from Afghanistan and found solace in horses and decided to, uh, pursue that as a career in business.

Scott DeLuzio: Awesome. Um, so could you tell us about, uh, a little bit more about the, um, the path that you took from, um, getting out of the military, uh, maybe, maybe a little bit about, you know, kind of your, your background in the military and, uh, getting out and getting involved with the horses, um, the way that you are now and what eventually got you to, uh, be involved with Oceanview Stables.


Zachary Leyden: So, uh, when I got out of the military, uh, so I was infantry, I’m a combat vet and I was in Afghanistan. I got out shortly after my tour in Afghanistan [00:02:00] and, um, was going to college trying to follow the normal path of, you know, using that GI Bill, going to school. And, uh, it was really struggling with the transition back.

Uh, You know, miss the normal things that you miss when you’re in the military, you know, purpose and a team and a common goal. And I also couldn’t stop thinking about all the things that I wish I could change in my, my time in and the, the, the, you know, things that happened. So I was stuck. I was stuck in a bad mind space.

Uh, I ended up hitting rock bottom in a lot of ways. And a Vietnam vet who tipped Mustangs had a facility near me. gave me an opportunity to come work with him and his horses. He knew I had a little background in horses and you probably thought that I could use the, the therapy. Uh, he never said that, but I, I believe that, you know, if I could talk to him now, he would, you’d say that.

Um, and so I went and I spent all my free time at his facility working as horses and little by little, I started [00:03:00] to feel like myself again, feel like the kid I was before I left. And, uh, the people who knew me well could see a drastic difference between the days that I was with the horses and the days that I was not.

And, uh, I saw that I was in a position where I didn’t have leadership, uh, responsibilities. I had no responsibilities. It wasn’t, you know, I didn’t have, uh, a job. I was going to school, miserably going to school. And, uh, I said, you know, I kind of decided I would jump in with both feet and, and, uh, try to make a career with horses.

Um, and, you know, I, and I made a success out of it.

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So. And that’s awesome. And I know a lot of times military veterans, especially getting out [00:05:00] of the military, they, they lose that sense of purpose, sense of meaning, they lose the camaraderie and, and all the, all these things associated with military service that I think a lot of us took for granted while we were in, um, in the military.

And we don’t oftentimes realize that we even have these struggles, uh, because I don’t know why it, it is, but I think, um, you know, maybe we, we’re just that, um, alpha type people and we, we just feel like we’re, we, we can take care of anything, we don’t need help, you know, so we don’t even recognize the fact that we have struggles, but then, you know, Then everything seems like it starts kind of coming down on us.

And we, we, um, look in the mirror sometimes and don’t even recognize the person that we’re looking at anymore. Um, you know, and it, it’s a sad state to be in when you look back on your life and you, you were, you know, this. [00:06:00] Happy person. Everything was great. You know, things, things were going well. And, um, then, then you look in the mirror and you’re like, who, who is this miserable, this depressed person who’s angry all the time and anxious and all these things are, are, you know, popping up.

And then how do you fix that, right? And then, so here you are in this, this place where you, you’re like, you know, I need, need probably some help, but maybe didn’t think of it that way, but, but found that the horses were, were changing your, your perspective, right?

Zachary Leyden: Oh, so I didn’t think that I needed help. I was that angry, anxious, you know, you know, bullheaded person when I came back.

And, you know, you see the veterans, the, the, the stereotypical, uh, veteran that comes back that they portray us as, uh, in the, you know, Hollywood. And that’s how I was for a little bit. And the. The thing is, I never would have asked for help because I didn’t think I needed help. I just thought that this is the way I [00:07:00] navigate the world now.

And I was working with the horses and I was changing back into a person that I, you know, wanted to be. But it wasn’t until years later, looking back at that, I was like, wow, if it wasn’t for horses. I mean, I, I would be, it would be sad to see the person I was that I would have become. Uh, and, and the thing is the horses are, they’re not the cure, but they are, they’re a medicine for sure.

Because when I don’t work with horses, even today, if I, if I stopped working with horses, I start to fall back into, to some of these, these issues that I had. And, um, and then I need that medicine again. And, um, I’ve watched this cure, not cure, but heal a lot of people. Um, and I’ve watched. A lot of people fall back into their ways when they, when they stop working with the horses again.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I’ve noticed that with a lot of, um, let’s just call it alternative therapies, uh, that, that are not, you know, your traditional talk therapy type thing with a psychologist or whatever, but, um, you know, people who are maybe finding, uh, [00:08:00] you know, some sort of relief through, uh, artwork or gardening or some other, some other thing that they do.

That just helps them. You know, everybody’s a little bit different, so everyone’s gonna find their thing, you know, maybe, maybe one person’s a little more artistic, so they’ll go to the arts, or, you know, someone’s more, you know, got, got the green, green thumb, so they’ll go to gardening, or whatever the case may be, or, or maybe they go to horses, because they, they feel drawn to that.

Um, you know, whatever the case may be, they, they find themselves feeling better while they’re doing that activity and, and for, you know, a period of time afterwards too, that like, they get that, that benefit, almost like taking a medicine. Like if you, if you have a headache and you take an aspirin or, you know, uh, you know, Advil or whatever, and you know, it gives you that relief for a period of time until the medicine wears off.

And then maybe the headache comes back. Um, You know, it’s very similar. I think anyways, to, to how all of this works is that you, [00:09:00] you get some benefit and it’s that long lasting, uh, kind of benefit that, that will help you. Um, and you know, maybe you need, need to, um, you know, get us, get another dose of that medicine, if you will.

Right. Over time. Right. Is that kind of how you see it working?

Zachary Leyden: Yeah, I see it that way. If you’d like, I could shine light to, to what it is, the horses are doing. So. What makes this, uh, therapeutic? In my opinion, and again, I’m, I’m not a doctor. This is just my, my profession and, and I see the horses as the therapist, um, in this case.

And, you know, I don’t think that this is a, you know, don’t, don’t substitute this completely for, for traditional manners. Sure. ’cause I still go to a therapist myself and, you know, while I’ve, I’ve realized the horses did a lot. I, I needed more to come. But anyway, I digressed so. The, the horses, when you work with them, every time you go into a situation with a horse, the horse is going to be completely honest.

They’re going to tell you what’s going on with them in that moment. They don’t lie. Humans lie. So like, if I ask [00:10:00] you, how are you doing? And you’re doing miserable. Well, you don’t want to have that conversation. You’re like, Oh, I’m doing great. Right. The horse is going to tell me if he’s not doing well, he’s going to tell me what’s wrong.

And then there’s a pressure and release pressure execution to fix it. So what happens is You come into the situation where I bring a veteran into the situation where they have to work with the horse. If that veteran is not completely honest, well, the horse is going to feel that unauthenticity from him.

And so, it’s going to be hard for the veteran and that horse to connect. And so over time, the veteran is going to have to figure his stuff out and figure out how to get present so that he could work that horse. Also, you make a horse a little better or a little worse every time you work with them. And if you can’t tell me how you’ve made them better, you’ve made them worse.

So when you go into a situation with a horse, You need to know what you’re going in there to do. And so I guide them into what to do with the horse. Like, this is your path. This is what you’re doing. This is the thing you’re trying to fix or that the connection you’re trying to get with them. And you go in there with a direct path, a goal, [00:11:00] and then you have to put together the plan to get to that goal.

And then you have to leave all of your shit behind, leave it at the door as you go in and be present with that horse, or else the horse isn’t going to get with you and you’re not going to get the thing done. So there’s a lot of moving parts. And ultimately what it comes down to is you’re going to be centered, focused.

Connected with the horse in that moment, which how often are you in, in the moment, it’s really hard to be present and in the moment in our day to day life, whether you have problems or not. And with horses, you just have to be, or else you won’t get anywhere with them. Yeah, and

Scott DeLuzio: it’s interesting just how quickly a horse will react to a situation, um, that, That might be developing.

Right. Um, and, and so when you’re working with a horse, um, you know, if you are, you know, you all of a sudden get mad and angry and frustrated, the horse is probably going to react and not the way that you want it to, and may even run away from you at that point. You’re a predator. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.

And, and the, the, the horses are, you know, [00:12:00] they, they’re a prey animal. Like they, they are not. Yeah, they’re big in size, but they’re not like, you know, a lion that’s going to come and, you know, attack their prey.

Zachary Leyden: Right? Think about this. You’re, you’re coming into the situation and you’re a predator and you’re coming to them as a predator saying, okay, so I’m going to get on top of you.

But before I get on top of you, I’m going to put this dead animal on top. View the saddle and I’m gonna strap this dead animal to you, and then I’m gonna jump on top of you and, and move you around. Like, the level of trust that you have to get from this prey animal to be able to get to that point, if anything is, is off in your mood.

They’re like, oh no, this time he’s gonna eat me. Yeah. Like,

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, that’s right. Um, and, and it, it’s that, that’s just a, a, a great way to think about it. Um. That’s pretty traumatic, actually, the way you described it, like, that’s, that’s pretty awful. You’re, you’re putting a dead animal, right? The saddle on top of another [00:13:00] animal.

And then you’re saying, Hey, trust me, you’ll be fine. Like what? No, I’m not going to try. You’re going to have to have a lot of trust for that horse to, to be able to, uh, you know. Oh, allow you to jump on its back and, uh, you know, take you for a ride or whatever. Right.

Zachary Leyden: But I feel bad for the old horses back in the cowboy day, where they abused and forced them through fear to do this and then through the dead animal on them and then got on and like, that was a scary time.

At least now it’s natural horsemanship style that the majority of us are doing and we’re getting connection with our horse and we’re telling them where they’re safe place. And we’re becoming a part of their herd and then we’re putting the dead animal on. I’m like, yeah, you know.

Scott DeLuzio: To the point where they want to be able to help you, you know, almost like a, you know, the way a dog comes in and you come into the house after, you know, work or whatever, and the dog, you know, comes up to you and runs up to you and is, is happy to see you, you know, the horses are, are, you make that connection.

The horses make that, that, um, uh, make it so that they’re actually happy to, to be seeing you. Right. Um, I mean, my, [00:14:00] my kids, um, about a little over a year ago now, um, We were up, uh, in an area that it was kind of more. More rural area that had, uh, some, some houses had some horses, uh, you know, on their property.

And my father took one of my kids, uh, to go see the horse went right up to the fence. Um, you know, the horses were, were over by the fence anyways, and they just slowly casually walked up to the fence and they were able to see the horses right up, up close. Um, my other two kids came around the corner, uh, from, from where we were and.

They saw the horse and they saw my father and my, my son over there, and they just did a, a beeline. They ran straight towards the horse, uh, because they were so excited to see the horse. Well, horses took off and it just, it disappeared. I mean, that disappeared. We saw it on the other end of the property, but, um, they, they weren’t gonna be able to catch it because the horse just way too fast.

Um, well, it’s a pressure thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. [00:15:00] And it just shows how. Um, how quick the situation could change where the horses were like, okay, well, we don’t know you, but we’re going to like, let you come close, uh, until out of the corner of their eye, they see these two other little, little kids running towards them.

And those kids could not have done anything to the horse to harm them. They’re so small, you know, but, um, but the horse doesn’t care. That’s just a protective mechanism,

Zachary Leyden: right? Yeah. When I, so with that same thing where those little kids push that horse out with pressure, I use this as a, a training method for my leadership through horsemanship program.

And I put the horse in the round pen and then I go in and I put in a lot of force and I show them like, I can get this horse to go left. And I put pressure and the horse goes to the left. I said, I can get it to turn this way. And I’m putting a lot of pressure getting the horse. And it’s like big movements and I’m pushing him this way and this way.

And then I’m getting him to stop. And I was like, this is. The, the negative, this is the wrong way to manage, but you can [00:16:00] get shit done, right? Yeah. It’s with high pressure, I can, I can move this horse around, I can micromanage this thing, I can make him go. And then, I’ll stand right in the middle, and I’ll calm my energy down, and then, I will pick up a little bit of energy, move forward, and the horse moves.

I was like, or… With calmness and just, just watching your expressions and getting your horse to look at you for the answer, I showed him what the answer is with big expressions, but now with these little expressions, now the horse has his ear on me, has his eye on me, his barrels turn towards me. He’s looking for me to be like, okay, what is he asking for next?

I am so subtle with all my movements. I’ll move my shoulders to the right and go like this and the horse will turn its direction. I will take a step, like a little breath back and that horse will come into me. And with these little tiny movements, that horse is now looking for me for every little thing that I’m doing, trying to figure out, okay, what is he going to ask for next?

And, and that softness, instead of. you know, being the force that’s forcing them. I have him looking for me for the guidance [00:17:00] of the next answer. Um, and that’s like the little kids running after him. They, even though they’re little, they put a lot of pressure towards him and he’s like,

Scott DeLuzio: okay, I’ll go. Yeah.

Right. Exactly. And, and, and that, it makes total sense when. You know, that was a teachable moment for the kids, you know, I explained, you know, the horses are, they’re prey animals and they don’t want to be attacked. And you start running towards them, they don’t, they don’t recognize that you can’t leap the fence that they were, uh, behind and, and they are just going to protect themselves.

So they ran away and, and that’s, you know, kind of the best I could do. Um, but, you know, taking this back, you know, obviously we were talking about my kids for a little bit there, but, you know, taking this back to how this works with veterans and um, you know, how, how the, the connection between the horses and, uh, and the veteran, how do you see that work?

You know, what, what is it, what is that, that the medicine, if you will, what, what is that healing, uh, attribute that, that comes [00:18:00] along with, with this work, uh, with, with the horses? There’s a lot of steps

Zachary Leyden: to that. One, it gives them purpose again. There’s this animal that they get to work with each day and see progress throughout the time.

Then there’s also little wins throughout the day. You know, you can, you can get things done with a horse. There’s, there’s a hundred different things that go wrong that we could work on. So you can have little goals and succeed at little goals throughout the day with this horse. And then the horse has it.

If you do it right and you’re following natural horsemanship, they have a love and appreciation and they want to be with you. And so you get this connection to this animal who wants to be with you. You get little wins throughout the day. It’s a big, large animal that is showing, you know, praise and wanting to be involved in the thing you’re doing.

And then there’s progression. Horsemanship never ends. I’m constantly learning. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. Uh, I’m, I’m a expert in my trade and, and I’m still constantly looking for the next mentor. Um, so that is, [00:19:00] in my opinion, a lot of what, what is going on there, but I can give you a story of the.

First veteran that made me decide to let veterans ride for free. So I was a for profit business. I was trying to build a business with horses. And then there was a pivot, pivoting moment where I was like, okay, now I’m building a business with horses, but I’m also going to have my mission be help veterans, uh, get connected with horses.

If you’re interested, I can tell you that

Scott DeLuzio: story. Yeah, please. I actually, that was going to be my next question is if you, if you had any success stories or, you know, kind of. transformative experiences or anything like that, that, that you could share, um, just to kind of highlight the point, that would be great.

But, uh, yeah, go ahead. Yeah. I mean, I have a lot

Zachary Leyden: of, a lot of success stories, but the one that always resonates with me the most is the first one, the one that made the program. Uh, his name was Michael. I was at the VA, um, in Sacramento, Mather, and, uh, this gentleman was trying to get the VA to give him a ride home.

Uh, they, they have a program to, to ride share him home. And [00:20:00] I was finishing up what I was doing, hearing him arguing with the lady to try to get a ride. And it just so happened that he lived close to where the ranch was. So I, I. suggested I can give him a ride, but we have to stop by the ranch first. So as we were on the car ride there, he started telling me about his story and his traumas, which also brought something to light.

You know, I was thinking veterans, the ones that have trauma are the ones like myself that have gone to combat. And he was explaining all of his traumas, which he never went to combat. And he had, you know, a large array of. Problems that were related to the military that are really, you know, psychologically messing with them.

And I was like, wow, okay, wait a minute. There’s a bigger pool of people that need help here than just us war veterans. Anyway, we went to. We went to the ranch and, uh, I told him I needed to do a few things if he could just hang tight. I told one of my employees to get him on a horse and let him go for a ride.

Uh, I came back after a couple hours, he went on his ride and I was like, okay, I’m ready to take you home. [00:21:00] And he was like, well, could I like stay here and help? So I let him groom some horses and, uh, we got him on another lesson as we’re finishing up the day. And then I took him home at the end of the day and he’s like, well, could I come back tomorrow?

And I was like, ah, okay, I guess so. So I, I, he ended up coming for like. Two months straight without, without a break, like every single day. Um, and then after a couple of months, he came up to me. He’s like, I was, um, you know, I, I was, I had a plan to, to suicide myself. Um, and that was, you know, I was going to do it in the next couple of days when you met me, like I, the plan was there and, uh, you’ve saved me.

You’ve changed my life completely. And. You know, he was able to get involved in horses and revolved his whole life around that again, but I made a one person, one difference that, that one time I was just like, holy cow, like, this is huge. It changed his life more than it ever could have changed my life.

You know, I, I was in a bad place too, but I was not in that kind of bad place. So. Uh, it was like a week after that, I talked to my wife. I’m like, [00:22:00] veterans are going to ride for free. She’s like, well, that’s, we can’t afford to do that. I’m like, I don’t care. We’re going to do that. Veterans are riding for free from this point forward.

We’ll fill this, you know, enough people will come and pay for it to make it make sense. It doesn’t matter. We’re doing this. Um, and we did it and we’ve had. Success story after success story of similar things where people come for a trail ride, and then they’re like, Hey, can I stick around? And, uh, and then they stick around.

And then after time, they tell me how much this has impacted them. And it’s, it’s been huge. Um, right now we’re working on building a therapy program at our facility in San Francisco, a veteran horse therapy program. So we’re going from it just being this, Hey, you can ride from free to, to building a whole system around it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that that’s incredible. That story there. You know, and it’s very fortunate that you happen to be. That’s the right place at the right time to happen to overhear, uh, this guy, you know, having the conversation, uh, at the VA and, um, and that you were kind enough [00:23:00] to give him a ride, um, you know, it wasn’t a direct route, you know, to, to his home because if it was, um.

The story would end probably differently, right? Um, uh, but he came to the ranch and discovered this healing power of, of working with horses, right? And, um, that’s, that to me is amazing. And, and I think I probably would have had the same reaction as you, um, especially after hearing his side of the story.

And, and saying, well, look, if this worked for one. Why couldn’t it work for however many other people who might come through? Right? So yeah, let’s make it easy. Let’s make it free. Um, let’s get more people in there. Um, the money will figure itself out, right? We’ll get this. We’ll get this to happen. But, um, that’s just an awesome story, I think.

of just how powerful working with horses can be. Um, [00:24:00] now I’m a, the other side of things, you know, managing this, this horse facility, um, you know, this is no small feat, um, you know, working with, uh, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re working with living, breathing animals that need. care and attention. They need to be fed and they need, you know, medical attention from time to time and they need all sorts of things.

Um, you know, what challenges have you faced and, and how are you, you, uh, managing, uh, the, the company that you’re, you’re, you’re working with now? I mean, this is.

Zachary Leyden: You know, I hear from a lot of people if because of my success in this, everyone’s like you could do literally any other industry and you’d be wildly successful beyond belief.

If you can do this well with this business, there’s just a million moving parts. It’s just everything. It’s getting a good team around you. My wife is incredible. Uh, I mean, I couldn’t have, without her, none of this would have been as scalable as we made it. [00:25:00] You know, she’s, she, she has a passion for horses.

She was a professional in her own right. Um, and, and we. We’ve built something amazing together. She has so much, you know, love for the horses and her knowledge base is incredible when it comes to the care of the horses. She never stops learning. She’s constantly growing. Uh, it’s, it’s, uh, so while I have my skill sets and what.

I do well, she compliments it with what she does well. And then we’ve had a lot of people on our team for a very long time that have grown with our business and, um, more people come on the team, you know, every, every few months we add more people where we have a very, you know, large team for, for a horse facility and, uh, everybody brings something to the table, um, if you can’t build a good team and a good culture, uh, it’s really hard to make something like this work.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I, I think that’s true with a lot of businesses, um, if. You have, uh, you know, an expert in [00:26:00] any field, I don’t care what the, the field is, it could be, you know, an accountant, it could be, uh, it could be anything, you, you name it, um, you can have an expert who is great at whatever their, their field is, um, but by themselves, they’re probably not going to be a success, they, they’re going to need that support behind them because they’re not great at everything.

Nobody can be, you know, great at everything. You need to have those people who, um, bring in the strengths where maybe you’re a little bit weak and, uh, maybe it’s not even a weakness that, that you, uh, bring in, uh, extra people. It’s just, there’s, there’s so many hours in the day. You can’t do everything right.

So bringing in those other people, um, to help you fill in those gaps and do those, uh, things that they’re great at. Um, we’ll make the business great, you know, everyone doing things that they’re great at, um, we’ll, we’ll just kind of drive you in the right direction. So, so it seems like you’ve, you’ve, uh, figured out how to manage this and grow it.

[00:27:00] And, um, you know, now reaching, um, you know, lots of people and, um, you know, hopefully getting some veterans out there and getting them on, on horses and, and working with horses and figuring out. Um, for themselves, just how powerful it can be to be working with these horses, right? Um, now for the, the folks who maybe are interested in getting involved with, uh, with horses, maybe they’ve never worked with horses before, or maybe they’ve…

They, they did when they were younger, didn’t, didn’t really do much with them while they were serving, they, they got out and, um, maybe they’re, they’re looking to get, get involved with horses now, uh, do you have any advice or, or guidance that you might offer to them to help get them started? Yeah.

Zachary Leyden: So if you’re trying to get started and you have zero knowledge in the horse industry, um, the horse industry is, is a very strange one.

There’s a lot of gatekeepers here and it’s really hard to get involved, um, in general. [00:28:00] And. When it comes to like this, the level one, uh, learning process, like there’s not a lot of quality places to go to. Uh, make sure that where you’re going, they have a curriculum, um, that you can see. Uh, don’t go to a place that is going to just throw you on a horse and let you do a few laps.

Uh, make sure that you’re progressing in your horsemanship. I find that there’s a lot of programs out there that are just trying to milk your, you know, your time. for the most amount that they can, uh, keeping you at a low enough level that you can keep sticking with it. Uh, when it comes to like our lesson program, we have a level one packet.

You see everything you’re going to learn the whole way through the level one packet. Things are signed off every day. You bring the packet with you each time, uh, no matter which assistant trainer you get or trainer you get. We will look at that packet and progress you through it. Uh, and it’s up to your aptitude, how quickly you get through that, that, that program.

And then level two, we get into the fine equitation. Again, you have a full packet that explains everything you’re going to learn this whole way through. And [00:29:00] then at level three, we sponsor you with our horses intact. So you can go to a competition with us and we change out the competitions each season.

So you get to try something new. And if you find that you really, really like one thing like cutting or reining or, or barrel racing, if you find that you, That’s what you want to focus on. We, we are not trying to hold on to you. Now, I will contact people in the industry that are, that are focused on that and that solely, and I will get you introduced to them, and now you move on to that next step with them.

Um, this is, you know, a, a, a program that, that actually gets people to the point where they can get into the, um, the. the industry they want to be in. The problem is people that are really good at this that are at my level or higher at, uh, training horses and training people, they don’t want to mess with the process of getting somebody from the ground up.

They want them to be that finished person who’s going to come to them ready to go into competition or ready to get to that next level. Try to find a program like mine. Uh, if you’re not in the Bay Area, [00:30:00] then obviously, you know, mine won’t work, but there, there’s, there’s got to be somebody somewhere you can email me if you can’t find someone.

If you’re in a state or an area where there’s just nobody email me and I’ll do the prospecting for you.

Scott DeLuzio: Sure. Yeah. And that’s, that’s great too, because, um, you know, someone who’s. You know, maybe in a more, uh, uh, urban environment where, where horses are maybe not as readily available, um, you know, they, they obviously can, can go outside of that environment, but, um, you know, if they’re not familiar with, with the area and familiar with who, uh, is out there, like you said, there’s, there’s all different types of people who offer this type of, training, and some are better than others, just like anything, um, you want to make sure that you’re getting someone who’s actually going to help you progress in.

And, and saying

Zachary Leyden: that if you’re in an urban area, there, there’s horse trainers everywhere. I’m in San Francisco. I’m, I’m three minutes from the San Francisco Zoo. You wouldn’t expect there to be a horse ranch. like in San Francisco area, right? And [00:31:00] I’m right here. And before this, I had a facility in the heart of Sacramento, like, and I was right out of the urban area of Roseville.

There, there’s places and there’s quality trainers. Um, good prospecting is important. Make sure that you’re getting somebody who’s, who’s bringing, you know, quality training. Cause again, you could waste a lot of money. To realize that you’re not going anywhere and what I find is a lot of the students that come here that’s been like, I’ve been training for years at X, Y, and Z.

I’m like, uh, I got to untrain you first and then train you. So, um, make sure you’re going somewhere that’s training you right? So that you can progress into the, the, the sport.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Um, that’s great, great advice, I think. Um, so what do you see next for Oceanview Stables and, uh, you know, what you’re doing as far as supporting veterans through horsemanship and, um, you know, everything else that you, you’re doing?


Zachary Leyden: that’s two points there. One for Ocean View Stable. We just got our food truck all licensed and ready to go. So we’re gonna have a cowboy cookout experience in the front end. On the [00:32:00] back end, we’re putting pods. We are turning it into a clinic at school and people will be able to stay overnight.

They’ll be able to do some lessons, some trail rides down to the beach, eat some barbecue food. It is, we just got a, um, we pulled out a bit of a budget to, to landscape the whole thing, make it a high end facility. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s going to be, uh, a iconic tiny guest ranch in San Francisco, a place where you just have to go if you go to San Francisco, right?

I believe we’re going to get there.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. It’s going to be the second part is, uh, Oh yeah, sure.

Zachary Leyden: For veterans, uh, we are partnering, um, with a nonprofit to, uh, bring in a horse therapy program here on facility. So I have been hesitant to do this for the longest time, uh, because. I believe like for me, I didn’t, if there was red tape to, to get involved, I wouldn’t have done it.

If you [00:33:00] had to say that you were broken to be fixed, I wouldn’t have done it. And so I didn’t want there to be any red tape. I wanted veterans to be able to just come and, and enjoy the horses. And if they accidentally got therapy, then good. And so I’ve been afraid to, to, to take the leap of making this a more systematic, uh, therapy program.

Uh, but. I think that there is a lot of need for both. So we’ll keep the veterans writing for free aspect, and then we’ll do the

Scott DeLuzio: therapy program too. You know, I think that’s a great way to get more people. Uh, especially the veterans involved in, uh, working with horses, um, whatever, uh, way that they may be, uh, benefiting from this, um, you know, whatever, whatever methods that you employ to, to get them to, to work with them, um, by, like you said, getting rid of that red tape and not, not having to prove that they’re, um, you know, their PTSD is related to their, their service, uh, you know, or anything like that.

Like just [00:34:00] come out and yeah, everybody’s got some sort of baggage that they might be dealing with. Uh, come out and figure it out for yourself. Figure out how the, the horses are, are, are helping you. And then, you know, with the more guided. uh, therapeutic approach like you’re, you’re talking about here, um, that, that certainly will be, you know, a, a great addition to the, the program that you’re, you’re currently offering, um, and, and that will, that’ll just help, I think, everybody, uh, through, through this whole, whole process, right?

Yeah. Um, so this is, this is great. I, I love, really do love talking about, um, these, I’m calling them alternative forms of, of therapy. They’re, they’re not your traditional talk therapy. Um, like you said, it’s not a replacement for other forms of therapy necessarily, but it’s, it’s just another way that people can, you know, Um, start to feel good about themselves again, start to just feel normal, maybe, [00:35:00] and not, not have to feel angry and miserable and stressed out and anxious and all these things that, that we tend to take with us from the military, um, all this baggage that we have, um, we start to figure out how to let go of some of that baggage and, um, these things, I just love talking about these because it, is stuff that people may not think about necessarily.

Um, you know, horses are not the first thing that comes to mind when it’s like, hey, I’m feeling depressed. That’s not the first thing that maybe comes to mind. It’s like, well, maybe you need to go talk to a therapist or, you know, something like that. Um, but. It does help people who are having some of these, these issues and, uh, by shedding more light onto stuff that, that you’re doing and, and other people around the country are doing, um, with horses and other alternative forms of therapies, um, it, it helps.

expose people to the [00:36:00] possibilities that are out there and helps them realize that there is hope for them. Just like the story that you shared earlier, um, of the person who, uh, almost ended his life, um, but didn’t because now there’s hope, right? Now there’s a, there is that light at the end of the tunnel, if you will.

Um, and they, they found that through, you know, working with horses and I think that’s just an incredible thing.

Zachary Leyden: Yeah, I agree. And, you know, the, I wish that there’s a way to reach more people with this. Unfortunately, we’re just in the Bay Area. Um, I, I don’t know if there’s any way to expand it or to, to promote other facilities to do this, but, uh, the, one of the things I’d like to just point out, if there’s any other facility owners that are listening to this, the veterans writing for free aspect has not That’s You know, broken my bottom line.

It has maybe even amplified, um, our experience. So, uh, maybe if you’re, if you’re a veteran who has a horse facility or a [00:37:00] um, uh, kayaking company or a painting company, uh, maybe take that leap and just let ’em ride for free. Let ’em, let ’em do it for free and, and, um, I think that it. over the long run will, will benefit you more than take away.


Scott DeLuzio: there’s that goodwill aspect of it too, uh, that, that comes through there. Just, just thinking strictly from a business perspective right now and, you know, taking off my, my let’s help veterans hat, which is, is still there. But, uh, just, you know, even from a business perspective, um, you’re, you’re looking at, uh, as a customer, if I’m looking at, you know, two relatively equivalent companies, and I see one is.

You know, offering veterans ride for free. I’m going to want to support that company because like I want veterans to, uh, you know, experiences and get benefits and, uh, you know, the support that they need. Um, and this company is doing it. So, yeah, I’m going to go to that company, uh, as opposed to the other company who, uh, maybe [00:38:00] is making everybody pay, you know, the same amount.

Um, I’d, I’d be happy to even pay a little bit more for, for my, um. Access to whatever the services or whatever the, uh, the business is offering. I’d even be willing to pay just a little bit more, um, to be able to cover the costs because I know it’s absolutely costs you something to be able to provide this service.

So yeah, I have no problem throwing in a little bit more money to be able to help benefit the veterans who, who desperately need it. And we, we know that, um, you know, the VA, uh, you know, they, they do the best that they can, the people who work there are great people, uh, for the most part. Um, but. They can only do so much.

And so, you know, having opportunities like this available, um, yeah, I, I certainly would support that, you know. Yeah. Let’s

Zachary Leyden: make a movement out of it, you know, businesses offering their experiences for free for veterans. Uh, I think it would just be, like you said, it sets you aside. You’re different now.

People are going to notice that too. And, and your goodwill will come back tenfold.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:39:00] Exactly, exactly. That’s, that’s the point I’m trying to make here. Um, I know you said, you know, you’re in the San Francisco, you know, the Bay Area, um, Uh, where can people go to find out more about Oceanview Stables, Uh, get in touch with you, uh, you know, book.

some sessions or whatever, uh, it is, or, or, you know, is there any, uh, additional things that you guys need? Are you looking for folks to, to come to work at the ranch, uh, or, uh, you know, what is it that you’re, you’re looking for?

Zachary Leyden: Yeah. So we, uh, you can book online at Oceanviewstables. com. Uh, as far as people wanting to work at the ranch, we are always looking for new hires.

We have slots open. Um, so if you’re interested, uh, we have a ranch hand position open right now. We have, uh, several Wrangler positions. That’s where you do, uh, assistant training and, uh, take trail rides down to the beach. Um, if you want to work on the food truck, that’s opening up soon. There’s, there’s a lot of options.

[00:40:00] We have a, Pretty good team right now. We’re always adding to it. Uh, but ultimately it’s if you want to ride horses, we’re the place to come if you’re in the Bay Area.

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SO, um, before we wrap this episode up, uh, I want to do a segment. Uh, I’ve been doing it for a few months now. Um, love to do this with military veterans. It always gets a laugh. Uh, it’s called, Is It Service Connected? Um, and for folks who aren’t familiar with this segment, it’s, um, sort of like America’s Funniest Home Videos, uh, the military edition.

We take a look at, uh, at a video of service members doing something stupid and, uh, you know, falling down, getting hurt or, you know, doing something, you know, in the America’s Funniest Home Videos, uh, way that they, they [00:42:00] typically get some laughs out of people. Um, but we’re going to take a look at a video of that.

And then at the end, we’ll, we’ll talk about. Um, you know, whether or not this, this could be a considered a service connected, uh, disability somewhere down the line, uh, which is

Zachary Leyden: Are we assuming this is done during, during, uh, work hours? Yeah. Uh,

Scott DeLuzio: I’m assuming, yeah, that they’re, they’re being done. Most of the videos that we’ve done, uh, the folks have been in uniform.

So, uh, no, I’m assuming it’s during work hours. Doesn’t mean that it’s a hundred percent. Um, yeah, they, they could still be wearing their uniform after work hours. Um, a lot of times the videos are just. People doing stupid things and it’s like, you’re looking at it like, what the hell were you thinking when you went and did that, you know, um, and so let me, uh, let me share my screen here.

So, uh, so our guests here can see what it is that I’m watching here and for the, um, for the listeners of the podcast who [00:43:00] are not able to see the video. I’ll do my best to describe what we’re about to watch, um, or you can take a look at the video on, uh, uh, Twitter, on YouTube, uh, you know, wherever we, we post this, uh, on, on social media and all that kind of stuff.

Um, check it out there, um, because you’ll, you’ll probably be able to, uh, see some of these, these things a little bit better and a little bit better than I can describe it. So, um, let me get this, uh, set up here. Um, so right now the video is showing a bunch of. Looks like a bunch of soldiers standing outside of a port a potty, um, and I don’t know, let’s see what, see what’s gonna happen.

So, right now, we got 1, 2, 3, 4, this is like the clown car. We got 4, 5, 6, uh, 7, 8, 9, 10. It looks like 10, 11, maybe 12 soldiers trying to squeeze their way into a port a [00:44:00] potty. One single port a potty. Um, on the outside. I think I counted 12. I could be wrong. I might have to go back and take a look. Here’s another one.

Maybe 13. Is that Lucky 13? Now Okay, that’s as far as it got on that video. So, um, you know, as far as the… Disability side of things. Is it service connected?

Zachary Leyden: Um, I’d say the first person who went in there could be service connected.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, probably. And probably anyone who went in there. I’ve got to imagine they’re probably picking up some sort of gross disease or virus or something.


Zachary Leyden: I was just going with like the, the 1200 pounds or 2000 pounds of weight that got dropped on that first guy. That’s, that’s true. Climbed on top of

Scott DeLuzio: them. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a lot of, Oh, I didn’t even think about that aspect of it. All the weight going on this person. Yeah. You got

Zachary Leyden: one guy squished on the bottom there.

That guy’s [00:45:00] hurt.

Scott DeLuzio: That guy is not,

Zachary Leyden: he’s not going to feel it for a couple of years, but there’s something wrong there now.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. He’s going to, he’s going to be 50 and he’s be like, what the hell is wrong with my shoulder?

Zachary Leyden: Yeah. There’s all that weight you’re holding on.

Scott DeLuzio: In my back and my knees and everything.

Yep. That guy right there, he is probably, he is probably hurting, uh, he is probably immediately regretting going in there too because Yeah. Uh. Those things stink sometimes and there is no getting outta it. And you got no,

Zachary Leyden: my, my thought now is like, like how much weight can that thing hold before it collapses, you know?

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, the, the seat, yeah. Like the floor and the, the seat and, and everything. Yeah. Into the, into

Zachary Leyden: the, uh, the, yeah. That’s gross. So that guy

Scott DeLuzio: probably even went into Yeah, he could have, yeah. The shitstorm, , , it just collapses. And he goes into the shitter. Yeah. Yeah. And, and so now his boots and his, his, the bottom of his legs and everything are all covered in.


Zachary Leyden: he’s like five years later. He’s like, [00:46:00] I have this, this foot rot that just won’t go away.

Scott DeLuzio: And he probably, probably he’s, it looks like they’re maybe out in the field or something like that. And he probably, you know, had chow afterwards and, you know, maybe didn’t get a good chance to clean his hands or whatever.

Yeah, he’s probably got some diseases that are ingested. So yeah, that guy, let’s say, yeah, that guy is probably going to get some service connected. The first guy. Yeah. Yeah. The first guy, the rest of them, maybe the second guy too. Um, yeah. The rest of them suck it up by their cup. Right.

Zachary Leyden: It’s silly. What, what, what can get someone service connected these

Scott DeLuzio: days?

It is. Yeah. But, um, like I say, with all of these, at least I have it documented on video. Um, so, so if there’s any questions like, well, you know, maybe I didn’t file anything or, or, you know, go to the, the, you know, sick call or anything, uh, at the time, but here’s a video, like it, it happened. So anyways, thank you again, uh, for taking the time to come on the show, [00:47:00] uh, sharing what you do and how you’re helping veterans and how other people can help out veterans with their businesses.

Um, you know, other, other, um, you know, folks that are operating similar businesses to yours, and even, even ones that are outside of, of the, uh, equestrian industry. Um, you know, they, they can also offer similar services that have these types of benefits for veterans. So thank you again for coming on and taking the time to share everything that you do with us.

Thanks for having

Zachary Leyden: me.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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