How Horses Are Helping Veterans

Horses are being used successfully to improve the lives of veterans and military personnel.

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November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States, a day set aside to recognize those who have served in the country’s armed forces. Originally designated Armistice Day and intended to honor veterans of World War I, the day was expanded in 1954 to thank all veterans for their service. Read on to learn more on how horses are helping veterans.

Horse rider with American Flag

The horse community has found many ways to offer support to military families in recent years, whether fundraising for veterans services or providing mental, emotional and physical therapy for men and women injured during their service. In honor of Veterans Day, here are some of the ways horses are helping veterans.

PATH International Equine Service for Heroes
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International offers equine-assisted activities and therapies for veterans through its Equine Services for Heroes programs. PATH is just one of the programs where horses help veterans. Participants benefit from riding and interacting with horses under the guidance of qualified therapeutic horsemanship professionals. Find out more at PathIntl.org.

Operation Free Ride
Horses4Heroes of Nevada supports Operation Free Ride, a program that allows veterans and military families to ride for free. This is another program where horses are helping veterans. Participating facilities have offered everything from a ride in the arena to trail rides to cattle drives. Operation Free Ride programs are also held at horse shows and equestrian events including the Pinto World Show, Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Find out more at Horses4Heroes.org.

EAGALA Military Services
The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), a non-profit association for equine-assisted therapy professionals, provides a model for therapeutic treatments for veterans. They promote the use of horses in treatment for PTSD as a more active alternative to traditional talk therapies. EAGALA also offers a network of certified programs offering services for veterans. Find out more at EAGALA.org.

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Leslie Potter
Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Couple of months ago, my husband and I was out eating and we saw a WW1 or 2 (didn’t want to stare at his hat) vet eating all alone. He really looked sad.
    My husband bought a $10.00 gift card, went up to the vet, shook his hand, thanked him for his service, gave the gift card to him and said his next meal was on us! The old man just smiled and mouthed “thank you” across the dining room.
    I hope the other diners saw that and someday do the same for our great veterans.

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