Therapeutic riding centers do admirable work in serving and helping physically and/or emotionally challenged individuals.  In my privileged time as a board member and volunteer at such a center I saw up close what gentle horses can do for children and adults in need of bonding and support.

Two 501 (c) 3 therapeutic organizations I’ve recently come across are devoted exclusively to assisting armed forces veterans.

Spirit Serving Veterans is located in Middleburg, Virginia, in Hunt Country.  It engages in “equine-assisted psychotherapy, referral resources, and community outreach [to] veterans of any era, members of the armed forces reserves, members of the Virginia National Guard, and family members, free of charge.”  The objective is to “work to improve self-confidence, communication skills, personal insight, and creative thinking” for veterans experiencing, for example, “military-related stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, [and] anxiety and relationship adjustment needs.”

Similarly, the Saratoga Springs, New York-based Saratoga WarHorse provides a three-day program free to veterans who are “struggling to adjust to life after military service.”   What is called the “Connection Process” refers to “an interactive experience…between off-the-track Thoroughbreds and veterans” that has been “effective in reducing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress as well as suicidal thoughts.”   Saratoga WarHorse says that through “the silent language of the horse, a mutual trust and profound bond is established that goes beyond verbal communication…The Connection Process varies with each horse-to-veteran interaction, but through careful guidance by skilled instructors, the process remains predictable, sequential and repeatable.”

Spirit Serving Veterans and Saratoga WarHorse (and any others like them) represent the best in humankind.  By simultaneously giving horses a good home and bettering the lives of veterans in need of emotional help and assistance, the world becomes a more humane place…at least for a small number of people and animals.  Spirit Serving Veterans refers to what it does as “Horses Inspiring Humans.”

This is a good-news oasis in a world in which acts of brutality, barbarism, and mayhem crowd the headlines.

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