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Veterans get Federal Assistance for Horse Therapy
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Veterans get Federal Assistance for Horse Therapy

Post War Depression

Part of a soldier's job is to fight in battle to protect the nation. During these wars, they can go through tremendous mental trauma and may carry psychological scars back home with them. This puts pressure on their day-to-day life and possibly preventing them from leading a normal, healthy and happy life.

The veterans of military services often keep painful war memories hidden deep within, which can result in depression, stress and to some extent, psychological disorders. Unable to cope with their troubled emotion, veterans may take heavy dose medications yet may not receive the appropriate positive result, which creates a vicious cycle of depression and pain.

Government Funded Therapy

Premier Steven Harper's government has taken a step forward to help the military service veterans deal with their mental trauma with hopes of living a normal life. Those who returned injured, physically or mentally, from the battlefield will now be able to go through equine therapy sponsored by the government.

Canada's central government is ready to cover the cost as a gesture to improve strained relations with veterans. The Veterans Affair Minister also confirmed this approach taken by the government and mentioned implementing the proposal nationwide so that veterans across the nation can benefit from the program.

This will help to fulfill the goal of uniting veterans across the country to help each other heal while understanding each other’s pain.

How War Horse Program Works

The objective of equine therapy for war veterans is to let the war damaged soldiers vent the pain they keep hidden within after years of serving their nation on the battlefield.

It is observed that mere medication does not help mentally scarred soldiers. It is essential that these soldiers find a medium to connect to with which they can easily relate their pain and suffering without feeling ashamed or socially banished. Through the equine therapy, veterans are given opportunity to share their feelings with the therapy horses.

Study of these veterans, along with their horses, reveals promising results of escaping their depressed state. Since horses are huge and powerful animals, anyone controlling a horse and sharing with it emotionally may be able to get hold of their own emotional disturbance. To make the best out of this therapy, Ottawa has even launched a pilot study at a cost of $25,000.

The pilot study has confirmed a considerable reduction in anger and anxiety levels in veterans after the equine therapy. Soldiers who were long term posted in Afghanistan often went through serious depression. However, a two-week war horse program changed their depressive state into a more stable state.

Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine therapy with horses is more effective than other forms of animal therapy because horse are seen as strong animals, one which has been an important part of military operations for centuries. Moreover, a horse is associated with strength, humility, and is often seen to form immediate and affectionate bonds with humans.

Those who participated in the program benefited positively from it and could reduce their medicine intake by a considerable amount. Despite its miraculous results it has not been proven yet whether this therapy has long term benefits or not. However, federal assistance for such therapy from Harper's government is commendable, and is something the other states should take notice of and learn from.

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  1. jst4horses
    WE have done veteran related equine therapy since Desert Storm. Monty Roberts is a psychologist as well as a world famous horse listener and trainer. His documentary "Soldiers and Horse Sense" are amazing testimonials to equine therapy for veterans. I hope America will follow. I did the research since 2004 on many countries, and a state by state survey to see if we can get it paid for instead of constantly raising funds. Oak Meadow Ranch in Wildemar, CA now has free and paid Veteran programs. Horses4heroes.inc out of Las Vegas has three hundred fifty PLUS stables that are in their membership that offer free and low cost therapeutic riding programs to veterans and high risk kids. I train and teach Spirit Horse II. an outgrowth of the original Spirit Horse, and NativeNaturalHorsmanship based therapeutic riding program that we started for Desert Storm veterans who were court mandated due to having their children removed by the Court for PTSD related abuse. The book on this will be out later this year. Carousel Horse is a book out now, an inclusion book, used to teach children, youth, and their parents about equine therapy and the myriad of treatment programs that it is used for. There was one program in which 75,000 children a year learn to read that was featured on Animal Planet. It is incredible. There are many types of therapeutic riding and it is going to come down to a fight that those who use a horse instead of a couch for psychotherapy need to be really careful not to stomp on the reality that it IS the horses that heal............not the metaphors and humans. Many an equine program has ten sessions, then they cut the people loose, and they wander into our programs and ask can they volunteer, and are healed................by horses. I remember one executive, stressed out by a 100 hour work week, who would come and just feed horses carrots and brush them. We would always ask, do you want to ride. She would always say DO YOU THINK I AM CRAZY and laugh..........we had one family in which the Mom came after a divorce, to just clean stalls and paddocks. Trim, tiny, she would even clean MUD by the wheelbarrow ful in rainy weather in the paddocks. She said after dropping off the kids it just made her heal. After awhile the kids were riding, and learning about horses, and their Dad started bringing them when their Mom had to work or go to school. HE lost his job, when the economy fell, and his NEW wife, the one he had left his family for, left him with a tiny child to raise, and went off to find a richer guy............everyone was cleaning stalls, and riding and playing with the ducks, chickens, dogs, and bunnies. Horses healed a whole family, and the blended woman's child as well. There were a lot of seniors who came out to just feed carrots and sit around watching the horses and riders. That couple told us that those seniors were so caring, so healing as they just listened, and helped them heal. Not just horses heal in therapeutic equine settings.
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