By Jeremy Harrell
As the Founder of Veteran’s Club, a veterans organization that provides cost free Equine Therapy for Combat Vets, I’d like to take a moment to discuss how horses are a true clinicians when it comes to vet healing.
As a combat veteran of the Iraq war, I’ve been doing traditional therapy for over 14 years. However, I have gotten minimal relief from traditional talk therapy at best. About a year ago, I reluctantly went to an equine program for vets in Kansas mainly to appease my family who swore that horses were the answer.
Once arriving at the farm and spending a little over an hour working with horses, it was at that moment that I felt a unfamiliar inner peace and clarity in my thoughts. I then started to see the changes occurring in the other veterans around me as well.
Such as the sense of confidence they showed while leading this 1,200 pound powerful animal up to the arena. I noticed the bonds they had with each horse including myself.
My horse’s name was Summer and it’s not secret that we intuitively seem to pick a horse that shares similarities in behavior as we do.
Summer was strong, powerful, and stubborn. So in an effort to get him to due the exercises I wanted him to do in the round pen, I had to be authentic with myself and process any inhibitions I had about being there or what I was doing.
See in the day-to-day hustle in bustle of life we hardly have time or the inclination to be authentic with ourselves and really process our challenges and experiences. It’s so easy to find a distraction and I did this by being a workaholic and by staying busy in other ways. It helped me pretend these issues weren’t present.
Although being out in nature on a beautiful serene farm with horses who like us behave largely off of instinct forced me to be open and allow memories to see themselves through to get past them.
It’s so effective that I have now started to facilitate this same kind of therapy within my organization here in Kentucky one or two Saturdays a month. I teach basic horsemanship and we do a very organic and subtle therapy session while we learn about riding horses, etc.
I have had combat veterans ask to participate time and time again because they sleep better in the evening after being out on the farm. Or that it feels nice to be building camaraderie with other veterans in the community and how being out there with the horse makes them forget about the struggles they deal with daily.
It gives the veterans a chance to reset so to speak and come back home that afternoon to their families in a better state of mind.
As a combat veteran myself, I feel like it is my duty to ensure that I do something within the veteran community to try to get the number of veteran suicides down to zero.
On the other hand, I also feel that it should be the duty of our American citizens and communities to also help in preserve the lives of those who answered the call to serve and protect our way of life here in our great country.