About Blue Star Ranch

Who We Are, Our Goals, Why We Do What We Do

Welcome to Blue Star Ranch

Blue Star Ranch is an equine-assisted safety-net provider for mental health services with internationally recognized certification. The horses help veterans overcome known barriers to engaging and staying in treatment. They can help families in post deployment transition build resilience. The ranch was founded by Nancy and John Zhe. Nancy spent 27 years designing equine therapy programs for children and adults with various life challenges i.e.; disabled children and adults, at-risk youth, recovering coma patients, recovering cancer patients, senior citizens, and so forth. John served two tours in Vietnam and knows first hand how difficult the adjustment is when soldiers return home.

We are passionate about helping our Veterans

“Blue Star Ranch started by request. Knowing my background with equine therapy, several members of the Habitat for Humanity Project for Veterans in Santa Clarita approached me and asked if I could offer my services for military veterans and their families. The idea, although a challenge, seemed to be a natural fit. ”

Nancy Zhe


To support Veterans through Equine Assisted Therapy, assisting them to adjust to civilian, family and public life.

PTSD and Why Blue Star Ranch Matters

According to the Department of Defense, it is estimated that there are 22 suicides per day with out post-9/11 combat veterans.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates cases of PTSD to be 13-20%. More than 2.6 million personnel have served post 9/11. The Rand Institute study “Invisible Wounds of War” shows that the number could be as high as 36%.

This increase in number has swamped the already overwhelmed VA and the needs for outside programs to help those who suffer from PTSD are needed.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans. Hence the name “battle fatigue” and “shell shock syndrome.” However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic or series of traumatic events. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is a result of many factors, including the severity of the trauma experienced and even how a person’s chemical makeup processes that trauma.

  • Dedicated, sincere people

  • Experienced counselors and advisors

  • Combat veteran experience

  • Integrity and respect for our veterans

  • On-staff equine therapists

The Role That We Play

Horses are real and present beings. They live in the hear and now. They constantly build and maintain positive relationships with each other and their environment.

Equine Therapy for Veterans includes sessions with spouses and children, when applicable. Under supervision of a counselor or other mental health care professional, assisted by an equine specialist, and the therapy horses, they work through a series of exercises to improve communications and collaboration. They do not ride the horses; rather they lead them through a series of collaborating exercises. Horses sense emotion in humans and react accordingly. This is the atmosphere needed to bring emotional problems to the surface for examination.

If you or a loved one are in need of help with PTSD, Contact Blue Star Ranch.

We will schedule a meeting to introduce you to our program.
(661) 312-6184

Blue Star Ranch is a non-profit organization and relies completely on donations and fund-raising. Services to our veterans and their families is 100% FREE and will always be. All donations are tax-deductible.

We are a member of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). EAGALA is made up of 4,000 members in 49 countries who train and certify equine specialists and mental health professionals.

Our Staff
Blue Star boasts a full staff of professional, highly-experienced counselors and a full line of highly trained and therapeutic horses and other animals. We pride ourselves on staffing truly dedicated professionals.

Our Services
Services to our veterans and their families are FREE. This means we must continually raise funds for our operating budget. If you, or someone you know, is in need of our services, we want to talk! Contact us today!.

Meet the Blue Star Ranch Board of Directors

The Board of Directors plays a vital role in ensuring the success and effectiveness at Blue Star Ranch. As the governing body of the organization, the Board provides strategic direction, oversees the ranch’s operations, and safeguards its mission and values. Their diverse expertise and experience contribute to the overall growth and sustainability of the ranch. The Board’s commitment, dedication, and guidance are integral to creating a nurturing and supportive environment where therapeutic goals can be achieved and the ranch can flourish.

Nancy Pitchford-Zhe

Board Member

>> Meet Nancy <<

Erika Kauzlarich-Bird

Vice President
Board Member

>> Meet Erika <<

John Castagna, CPA

Board Member

>> Meet John <<

Richard Carrillo

BOD Member

>> Meet Richard <<

Mike Salinas

Board Member

>> Meet Mike <<

Alessandra Sinlao


>> Meet Ally <<

John Zhe

Asst. Treasurer

>> Meet John <<

Meet Our Therapy Team

We consider our therapy horses part of the staff! They are amazing animals, work hard and provide an incredible service to our Veterans.  Please visit our What We Do Page to learn more about our system, philosophy and our therapists.

Meet the Blue Star Ranch Support Staff

Blue Star Ranch boasts a full staff of professional, highly-experienced counselors and a full line of highly trained and therapeutic horses and other animals. Also as a 501c(3) non-profit organization, our Board of Directors is made up of caring people – community leaders and dedicated citizens.

Nancy Pitchford-Zhe


>> Meet Nancy <<

Sandy DeFrain

Director Assistant

>> Meet Sandy <<

Deborah Winters, LECC

Lead Therapist

>> Meet Deborah <<

Jane Del Vecho

Equine Assistant

>> Meet Jane <<

Mike Salinas

Barn Manager

>> Meet Mike <<

Greg Fry

Website & Media Resources

>> Meet Greg <<

Jeff Stabile

Community Partner

>> Meet Jeff <<

Quilts of Valor

Community Partner

>> Learn More <<


Here is the Good News

Blue Star Ranch (BSR) will provide ten weekly Equine Assisted Therapy Sessions for ten weeks, FREE. Spouses and children are included when applicable. And BSR is working on expansion, so we can start a follow-up program two times a month for graduated veterans. This program will provide peer group learning, and a place to continue to heal, with the Therapy Team.