From Barn to Couch, Horse Therapy Comes to Our Veterans
My eyes were opened to equine therapy in an isolated spot out near Augusta, Georgia. With a dusty, red clay road going in and bordered by tall Southern pines, the recovery center was truly an oasis. If you didn’t know it, you’d never guess that there was a stable and a small corral fill with big, beautiful horses.
In that backwoods locale, patients gladly walk a mile and a half to work with their therapy horses every day. For these men and women, their time with the horses was a walk on the clouds compared to a dependent life. Guiding both human and horse was an equine therapist named Roy. Roy was able to use the way of the horse to get at some very human emotions and issues and go from there. I’ve seen it firsthand: horse therapy works.
Horses and humans enjoy a special history, and this new chapter propels the healing power of nature for our Veterans and their families with PTSD and depression. HorsePlay in St. Augustine is that next chapter. We are overjoyed as we invite our local Veteran families to this special place.
A Miracle on Four Legs
HorsePlay St. Augustine Helps Fight PTSD and Depression
The charm of HorsePlay, a hippotherapy nonprofit in St. Augustine, Florida, comes when you meet the horses. Rebel, Captain, Brave, Lizzy and Stony all have their own story that reflect ones we all have. They put that aside because their job is to help kids with autism find a happy heart while on top of a horse.
The key to why horses are able to help anyone with mental illness lies in their command of respect and their instant feedback communication. Horses need a stable, calm leader to do their thing. Vetearns and their families know that feeling, especially those with PTSD.
What is equine-assisted therapy?
Equine assisted therapy, or EAT, is a behavioral therapy that incorporates the riding, caring and management of a horse as a central component of the session.
What are the benefits of equine or horse therapy?
The magic of equine therapy, and one of the main benefits, is that the patient is almost unaware of the therapy that’s being applied to them. They are so involved with their relationship and handling of the horse that there’s no why attached to the what am I doing?
MORE ABOUT HIPPOTHERAPY
Hippotherapy is physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech/language therapy that uses equine movement as a treatment strategy. The movement of the horse influences the client, and the client actively responds to the movement. The therapist directs the movement of the horse, analyzes the patient’s response, and adjusts the treatment accordingly. The movement of the horse creates a combination of sensory, motor, and neurological input. This effective strategy is integrated into the treatment plan to help each patient reach their goals.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
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Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.
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Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.