Equine Therapy and Veterans

As Christians, we are called to serve not only the many creatures of the world but also our fellow man. There are many times where past emotional trauma can create a difficult mental state for our spiritual brothers and sisters throughout the world. As we’ve featured before in the Deer Creek Structures blog, often times a day spent enjoying the freedom of riding a horse can be a far more beneficial therapy than prescription medication or psychoanalysis.

The stress of battle leaves causes many soldiers to struggle once they return home and have to try and resume a normal life. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a major concern, as it prevents those military men returning home from enjoying their life as they did before. A fear of leaving the house, extreme irritability and difficulties with personal relationships can make living with PTSD a very unstable situation.

However, there are those who have found that equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) can provide major benefits to veterans who are suffering from PTSD or similar issues. Operation Strides is one such service that caters to veterans in and around the city of Naples, Florida. Launched in January 2013, this therapeutic facility caters to veterans of many wars to help them better deal with the unseen scars of warfare.

Sessions at Operation Strides last about eight weeks for participants. The camp’s activities are designed to help veterans positively affect their negative behaviors that they earned through battle experience, as well as giving them an outlet to enhance their self-awareness. According to Operation Strides administrators quoted in this article from NaplesNews.com, camp participants experience an average reduction in anxiety, irritability and depression by about 20 percent.

One way soldiers get to express themselves with the horses is through an activity known as “Warrior Painting.” In this program, participants are given a horse to partner with and many colors of washable paint. The soldiers take the paint and create pictures on the horse’s fur itself, allowing them to create a happy scene or giving them a chance to express some darker emotions that they may feel like they can’t speak aloud.

We share the world with many who need our help, man and beast alike, and we need to be mindful of that. Deer Creek Structures is proud of the ability of our fellow men to respect this holy relationship.

*Image courtesy of Gunter Nezhoda