Horses Helping Heroes: Veterans with PTSD Seek Treatment with Equine Therapy

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GRANGER, Iowa  —  Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have sought help from all kinds of therapy in the past, talk therapy, medications, even hypnotism. But at Jester Park, specialists are not using doctors to treat veterans, they are using horses.

264 veterans who are enrolled in the VA have gone through the Horses Helping Heros equine therapy program. There is no cost to the veteran, it’s all paid for through fundraising. Veterans say it has helped them understand and overcome some of their darkest thoughts.

“It helps me, dealing with the outside world,” Army Veteran Willy Morris said.

Army Veteran Wally Morris is just one of those veterans who have gone through the program.

Horses Helping Heros is a four-week course designed to assist veterans in gaining life skills by working with horses.

Identifying and building relationships, practicing communication, managing challenges and recognizing peace are the four lessons.

Equine specialists said there is a lot of self-reflection and self-control needed when trying to communicate with a horse.

“What he does and everything that happens out there I have no control of, and if I were to spend my life focused on everything outside of the round pin, everything externally that I don’t have control of, that would be miserable, that’s not a healthy choice so recognizing the only thing I can control is myself,” Equine Specialist and Veteran Carly Routh said.

Horses Helping Heros is celebrating their third anniversary Friday, they hold programs every month except for December and January.


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