Horses – A Veteran’s Saving Grace
When you think about those currently serving in our armed forces and those who have served, would your initial thought be to pair up a veteran with 1,000 pound, four-legged soul? As a horse owner, you know and have experienced the love and passion committed to you by horses – when they give you all they’ve got, the unconditional love shared and the one you whole-heartedly trust more than any other. Imagine, giving that sensation to someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Between 11-20% of veterans who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have suffered from PTSD in a given year. There are a number of programs across the country giving back and changing lives of those inflicted with this disorder, and we’d like to introduce a few of them to you!
Veterans Reins of Recovery (VROR) – Kentucky
Kim Wheatley-Alexander is the founder and executive director of Upside Therapeutic Riding based in Kentucky. They have worked closely with Robley Rex VAMC, experts in military culture and trauma, for the past three years to provide veterans suffering from PTSD with the most effective program possible. VROR sets a goal to be the catalyst for behavior change with program participants.
The program focuses on the following:
- Development of mental flexibility
- Building resiliency
- Coping and communication skills
- Understanding unhelpful thinking styles, trust and triggers
- Creating a sense of support within the community
Learn more about Veterans Reins of Recovery.
USA Re-Boot Resort – Idaho
Johnny Urrutia, Executive Director for USA Re-Boot Resort and Idaho Horse Therapy combines equine therapy, along with several other treatment models, which has proven to be very successful for many suffering from PTSD. Treatments from the program, including therapy work with horses, have helped men, women and children find peace and have given them the ability to enjoy life again.
"There are wounds that never show on the body, but are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds."
– USA Re-Boot Resort website
Heroes and Horses – Montana
Heroes and Horses is a program, based out of Montana, that provides expedition-style horse pack trips, utilizing the remote Montana wilderness, to teach self-reliance, teamwork and perseverance. This experience is led by skilled instructors, many of whom are combat veterans and program graduates themselves. Relying on horse partnerships, the goal is to challenge and inspire personal growth in participants suffering from PTSD.
The goal of Heroes and Horses is challenge participants, evoke change and helps them learn new ways to approach and solve issues, so they make peace with their past and replace negative memories with positive ones.
Learn more about Heroes and Horses.
“We are not defined by our many scars, but by what we do after the wounds close.”
– Heroes and Horses website
Veterans Voices – Testimonials of the Healing Power of Horses
“My husband went through the PTSD program with IHT and it was the only thing that ever really helped him, and it is still helping him several years later! Seeing this continue for our vets brings me great joy for so many other families who have walked a mile in my shoes. Thank you for bringing light and hope back to their lives.”
“This program is not like any other veteran program I have been part of. I am now a walking, talking, riding ambassador for the program. Even now, I think about how every choice I make, everything I do, how will this impact Heroes and Horses. To say that Heroes and Horses made an impact on me is an understatement. They say the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man, I will add to that by saying Heroes and Horses is good for healing a veteran’s soul.”
– S.D., 2017 H.H. Graduate
"I can, with total honesty, report that I am now symptom-free of PTSD, no longer have nightmares, intrusive thoughts, depression or anxiety. I am happy, energetic and loving life. I want to live every moment of every day. Life still has obstacles but with what I learned at H&H I look at them as a challenge to be overcome. I don’t define myself by my past, however, I am proud of it, but that is who I was, not who I am now. I define myself now as a Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle, Grandfather, and friend. I am also a Cowboy and Horse Wrangler in training, and part-time flats fisherman😊. Thank you to all at Heroes and Horses"
- J.R., 2018 H.H. Graduate
“Coming gave me something to look forward to, a reason to get up, and that has helped me in my motivation around the house.”
– VROR Participant
“By far the best therapy I have gotten through the VA. The horses were very good for me to interact with. Really helped me.”
– VROR Participant
Favorite part about the program: “The calmness the horses gave to me.”
– VROR Participant
We can never express enough the gratitude and appreciation we have for those who currently serve and those who have served and dedicated themselves to protect our freedoms. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!