THE Philosophy

The Heroes and Horses program inspires veterans to move beyond the difficulties experienced from years of war, towards a life of restoration and hope. This unique experience challenges these individuals, evokes change, and helps them to develop new ways to approach and solve problems.

This program will peel back the layers to who you are, and it is there where you find your truth - and the truth can be painful, but we promise you that it’s worth it. You not only learn to evolve and grow in real time, but you begin to take on and apply the fundamentals of ownership. You put the victim-hood away, and close the doors on the past - whether it contains good or bad experiences. The horses and mountains will show you the way, but only you can make the choices that will lead you to find what you’re looking for. 

This will be the hardest war you will ever fight.

It’s the war against yourself.

We got your back.



Phase 1 - Online Application:

We are no longer accepting applications for 2019. If you have applied for this years program, you can expect to hear from us by March 7th, at which time we will be notifying you via email or phone if you will be moving onto Phase 2 of the application process.

Please note that applications must be completed in their entirety in order for the applicant to be considered for our program. It’s also important to note that family members, spouses, friends, etc. cannot apply on behalf of the veteran - they must apply themselves.

Phase 2 - Phone Interview:

For those of you who move onto Phase 2 of the interview process, a member of our team will be contacting you to set up an interview with our COO, Rick Franco. Phase 2 applicants will be notified by April 1st, via email or phone, if they have been accepted into the program. Those who have not been accepted may be placed on an “alternate” list.

Please note, those individuals who have been accepted will be given one week to confirm their participation. After that week has lapsed, any open slots will be deferred to individuals on the “alternate” list.


Our program starts long before you ever set foot on Montana soil. You can expect to be sent mandatory reading material, instructional videos to watch, as well as an optional diet/exercise plan which has been created to prepare you for the physical challenges of the program.


Our program is 40 consecutive days long, and you are expected to attend the program in its entirety. Your commitment to attending our program is taken very seriously, as we only have 24 slots available, and hundreds of applicants.

If you accept your invitation to our program and later back out, you will not be considered again for this opportunity.



During the first phase of the Heroes and Horses program, participants travel to Montana where they attend the Heroes and Horses Training Camp for 6 days of instruction in horsemanship, riding, pack training, back-country skills, stock management, leadership course, and the basics of being an outdoorsman. Upon the completion of the Heroes and Horses Standard of Training, they will be issued a horse and a mule. The participants then embark on an 8-day progressive pack trip through some of the most remote and rugged wilderness in North America.  Upon completion of this trip, they head to ranch week,


Shifting gears from pulling pack-stings and “covering country,” the pace picks up as they learn the fundamentals of being a cowboy. They will learn about cattle, range management, roping, working cattle off of horseback, animal husbandry, and gain the riding skills to move quickly and efficiently across expansive country. Alone or working as a team there is fencing, labor and “ranch work”, as a day’s work is never done for a cowboy.


Upon completion of Ranch Week, the class returns to educational classes the next day. In Phase 2 there is a lot more responsibility as the class beings to become self-run with oversight, and our students will find themselves wrangling horses, checking stock and prepping for classes. Here the instructors will teach our students advanced packing, shoeing, equine medicine, truck and trailer driving, chainsaws operation, brand and transportation paperwork, roping, first aid, groundwork, addressing problem horses, and the continuous refining of skills. After 5 days we pack up for the most amazing and most difficult challenge yet. We head to the rugged and massive Bear Tooth Mountains for 11 days of high-altitude travel to remote lakes, which provides our students with a chance to practice their acquired survival skills while working in small teams led by a new leader each day. The responsibility component here is very high, but by this time the students have learned what is necessary to be successful on this lifetime trip. The learning is real.

And just when they think the program is over, there is a surprise for our students on Day 39, because at Heroes and Horses we believe “it does not matter what you did yesterday, it’s what you do today that matters”. When the students successfully complete the full 40 days of our program they each earn the coveted Heroes and Horses Graduate Belt Buckle. You cannot buy this buckle, as it can only be earned through hard work, pain, suffering, ownership, belief, and honestly.

A change to make a change.


Time to go to work. If your idea of finding meaning and purpose is sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself, or lamenting about what you don’t have or what you haven’t experienced, then…. good luck.

“A man’s work makes room for him in life”.

In Phase 3 it’s all about our students applying themselves in real world situations. We strategically work with various outfits and companies across the country to place our students into temporary internships, and also job placements into wilderness outfitter as a hand, learning horsemanship, or working cattle on a ranch. These internships take place all around the country - Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, etc. No matter what a student chooses, it’s imperative that they find meaningful work and keep progressing, or they run the risk of slipping into old patterns.

what to expect…


While in camp you can expect long days filled with all the classes and instruction you will need to make it through the back-country and the program.  Days start early with gathering the horses, hands-on instruction will fill the bulk of the day, and there will be PT involved on certain days.  You can expect 10-12 hour hard days, on average.  Three hot and healthy meals are provided for you. In the evenings, there are leadership and development discussions that build upon your days work.  Make no mistake, we are true to our hashtag - #NotAVacation.  You will have to put in the work, and this will likely be the hardest thing you will ever do.


Horse packing is an age old art form used to transport items on the backs of mules and horses ranging from entire homes, cables, railroad tracks, timbers and, in our case, everything we and the horses will need to survive for up to 11 days of continuous movement across some of the toughest terrain in North America.

You are not only responsible for you, but a large “string” of animals, and your classmates. You will learn very quickly to face your self-imposed limits through self-reliance, teamwork, and perseverance under tough and harsh conditions. When you get into the back-country there is no back, only forward - just like in life. You cannot run from who you at Heroes and Horses, and you certainly can’t cheat the mountain.

Our team of veteran and non- veteran experienced instructors and graduate apprentice guides will be there alongside you as you learn to grow every day. Mentoring you as you evolve as a horseman, cowboy and as a person. Your guides will give you the tools to get the job done right no matter what. There are no short cuts to the top. All roads lead back to you.


How much does it cost to attend the program?

The cost of the program is 100% covered for those who are accepted. This includes flights to/from Montana, as well as flights to/from Phase 3 assignments.

Are you currently accepting applications for your program?

No, we are no longer accepting applications for 2019. We will open up applications for 2020 in the fall.

Who is eligible for your program?

Most of our participants are United States combat veterans, although we will consider all types of United States veterans. Please note that our current program is for male veterans only, as we do not have an all-female program at this time. That said, this year (2019) we are partnering with a new local nonprofit, The Serenity Ranch, who is offering an all female program. 

Do you take female applicants?

Our current program is for male United States combat veterans, only. That said, we think it's important to note that this is not the result of a gender-bias whatsoever. It has nothing to do with not wanting to serve our female veterans, believing that our female veterans are not "heroes", or operating under the assumption that female veterans can’t "handle" our program. What it comes down to is safety and effectiveness. Some of the individuals who come through our program may be considered "high risk" - those battling drug and/or alcohol addictions, some just leaving incarceration, and many variations of PTSD that have not been alleviated through any other program or counseling environment. What we have seen in the past (because, yes, we have tried a mixed-sex program before) is that co-ed classes are not as effective and can be distracting - and, at times, unsafe and unbalanced - for the individuals participating. So then why don't we have an all-female program? Well, that primarily comes down to resources, and the number of female applicants we get (which is only a very small handful). In a perfect world we would be able to help everyone, but as a small nonprofit that does not even have it’s own a facility, we are limited by the resources available to us. That said, the need for a program that serves our female veterans is not lost on us and, as a result, in 2018 we started a partnership with a new nonprofit that is offering a program to female veterans - The Serenity Ranch.

Is there an age limit for your program?


Is there a weight limit for your program?

For safety reasons, we have a weight limit of 260 pounds. 

Do I need to have horse experience to apply?

No. Many of our participants have little-to-no horse experience. 

I applied for your program, but haven't heard back.

If you have applied for our 2019 program you can expect to hear from a member of our team by March 7th, 2019. If you have questions about your application, please email us at

How long is your program?

Our program is made up of 3 phases. Phases 1 and 2 take place over 40 consecutive days. Phase 3 is comprised of an internship/apprenticeship which lasts approximately 4-6 weeks.