Major Terry Evans has been learning to ride horses for more than a year, in an effort to mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other war-related trauma, according to Action News.
Evans, who served 20 years in the Army, was injured by an IED in 2004 while in Iraq. "I can just remember my head was just throbbing, incessant pain," he told Action News. Upon returning to the US, the vet also experienced symptoms of PTSD.
Researchers say horses feed off emotions so in order to control the large animals, riders have to be calm and self-assured. Riding and taking care of horses can help soldiers with PTSD regain their emotional strength. It can also help them establish a bond and break their isolation.
"Pet owners can really appreciate it because anyone who has a pet that they love, knows how important that emotional bond and connection can be," Renee Hughes of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross said. Hughes says that’s why they started the program there and they’ve seen the benefits.
"It’s helped me have more patience and reduce significantly my anxieties that I would normally have," Evans said.
The program is currently funded by the Department of Defense, but the grant is running out. Hughes hopes donations from people and businesses in the community will help keep horse therapy for veterans going.
Horse therapy can also help people with more severe physical problems such as helping soldiers learning to balance and walk again, she added.
[Source: Action News]