Relationship Ranch: Horses Used to Tame Feuding Couples

"Nightline" followed one couple's journey to save their relationship with unusual therapy.
3:00 | 12/07/12

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Transcript for Relationship Ranch: Horses Used to Tame Feuding Couples
You when it comes to have very human problem of keeping the love alive in a relationship, it might seem strange to turn to an animal for help. Yet horse therapy has become a new frontier for those looking to sort out the messy matters of the heart. Juju chang brings us one couple's journey to get back in the saddle. Justin, can you tell danny what you've been through? And notice his reaction as you're talking. Tell danny? You serious? Reporter: This man is trying to win back the love of his life, by talking to a horse. Okay, danny. Reporter: Justin and lyz have been together for nine years. Justin, look at lyz's reaction. But a week ago, they were barely talking to each other. Justin will do everything except what I'm telling him i need because he doesn't think -- take a break, guys. Thanks. . Reporter: This is couple's counseling at relationship ranch. So, he identified heavily with our horse. Reporter: Nancy and lottie are marriage therapists who are convinced these gentle animals can help tame feuding couples by breaking down emotional defenses and helping heal past traumas. Because horses are so sensitive, they can help us determine what a couple is actually really feeling. Walk, walk. Go! He's telling me that you don't really mean it. Reporter: So, we came to colorado to follow this couple's last ditch effort to save a scrumabling relationship, using horse therapy. We have piled problem on top of problem on top of problem for years, who knows what's at the bottom of that. All by yourself. Reporter: Though never married, justin and lyz are raising two sons. Lately, the bickering and fighting got so bad, he reluctantly moved out. But now, he'll try just about anything to make his family whole again. First thing we're going to do today is just actually go meet the herd. Reporter: Justin is drawn to the most aggressive horse on the ranch, danny, who came here after surviving a grizzly bear attack. Danny isn't fitting in, which hits home for justin, who feels exiled from his own herd. I think that lyz experiences justin as very controlling. But that has its root in his childhood. Reporter: Turns out, when justin was 9, his sister but brutally murdered by an ex-boyfriend. He chased her down and cut her throat. And we went back several days later and they didn't clean anything up. Reporter: Nancy believes that childhood trauma affects his adult relationship. Trauma survivors are very concerned with being able to control their presence environment because they were not able to control their environment when they were traumatized. Can you see? No, I'm blindfolded. Reporter: This trust exercise forces justin to give up control to his partner. Horse on your right. Keep walking. You're fine. Okay. Reporter: The goal? To expose his d wounds. Can he relate to you, do you think? Yeah. Reporter: Watch how danny sets the stage for a major breakthrough. I went through a very difficult time, as well. Very traumatic situation. It seemed so stupid at fir and then it was actually helpful. Therapeutic. You're okay. You're going to do just fine. And it was a breakthrough. It would have been taken me a year if I was meeting with justin in my office. Reporter: Lyz said she had never seen justin so vulnerable. Two weeks later, one final exercise. It's aimed with justin coping his past. You abandoned all of us. I had to be the man of the family. Reporter: Inside the pen, justin is 9 years old again. The age when his sister was murdered and his father split. Lyz plays the role of his dad. I get more determined to never be as pathetic as you are. Reporter: At this crucial moment, danny seems to sense that his new friend needs help. And in a rare sign of trust, some of the horses lay down behind justin. I'm already better than you. Reporter: Others join him by his side. They're giving us messages. What is the 9-year-old justin think they're telling us? That they don't have to -- you don't have to what? Keep fighting. You know, you don't have to be so worried and scared all the time. That was the big ah-ha moment for lyz. She said, justin, I realize that I am abandoning you over and over again, just like your dad did. Reporter: At this point, nancy asks the couple to formally recommit to each other exclusively. And you might decide you can't. There was a huge eruption with the horses. They started kicking and running and we actually had to get up from where we were sitting. Reporter: Nancy believes the horses were reacting to lyz's fear of commitment and justin's fear of abandonment. Calm down. Whoa, whoa. Reporter: But she still presses the issue further. I'm wondering if you'll think about it. I'll do it. Reporter: Lyz needs more time to decide. Here's a loaded question. Do you still love each other? I love justin. I love lyz. Reporter: Is there a but coming? No, no. Reporter: They haven't solved all their problems, but at least for now, they found some guidance for the long road ahead. If you truly want help, you're going to do whatever it takes to get that, even if it's talking to a horse. Reporter: For "nightlin I'm juju chang in colorado. Horse therapy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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