FHS grad makes career of equine-assisted therapies
Former Frenship football player Randy Mandrell said during high school, he put his interest in horses aside, but revived it after graduation and eventually made a career of working with horses and people.
“When I was going to school at Frenship, I pretty much dedicated my life to football and friends,” said Mandrell, a 1989 graduate of Frenship High School.
But after graduation, he began training horses again.
“I guess my whole life I was into horses. We’ve got pictures of me on a horse before I ever knew I was on one.”
For a year and a half after graduation, he balanced school at Texas Tech with horse training. But midway through his second year, his father’s cancer, which had been in remission since he was in high school, returned.
“I stopped caring about things. I dropped out and went into the work force,” said Mandrell. Now he can see that it was a blessing, he said.
Sons: Brady, 7, and Wyatt, 4
Favorite subjects at FHS: Athletics and math
Favorite teachers: Karen McLarty and Coach Don Black
“It sounds kind of strange, but bringing my wife and myself closer to God and relying on faith, and just looking back, you can see how it was all planned out,” said Mandrell. “What success I have had is just relying on God to get me through things.”
Mandrell married his wife, Patti, in 1995, and they had to figure out how to merge their dreams as well.
“My wife was starting her master’s degree to become a counselor,” he said. “It was always my dream to have a ranch, be away from people. And she said she knew before junior high that she wanted to help people.”
Eventually the couple found a happy medium. They now run Refuge Services, a non-profit organization which provides equine-assisted therapies to individuals of all ages, including hippotherapy, therapeutic riding and equine-assisted psychotherapy. They have been licensed counselors since 1999.
When he was in high school, Mandrell said he never could have seen himself doing what he does today. When he had to do oral presentations in English classes, he said he would usually try to do a great job on the written portion of the assignment and take a zero on the oral part because he was so shy of speaking in front of the class.
Now he regularly speaks in front of groups of as many as 800 people and has traveled around the nation and even to Belgium to teach people about using horses for counseling.
As a trainer for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, or EAGALA, he travels to train people.
“I had a fun trip to Belgium in June and found out how little our dollar is worth over there,” he said, adding that it cost him about $20 for a meal from McDonald’s.
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