Horses Help Heroes is a Crofton based program. It started in late 2016 and its aim is to help the lives of service-connected disabled veterans and their families. They also help the families of those military personnel who died on active duty through free programs focused around horses. It was first started by a wounded veteran but is now owned by Jeff Dwyer.
The program offers a range of activities as service from riding lessons and therapy to spending time around horses. The human-animal bond is extremely useful in healing processes and it is on this foundation that the entire program functions. Forming a bond with horses doesn’t necessarily mean one has to ride the. One can simply be around the wonderful animals and enjoy their presence whilst taking in the beauty of the fields at Sunrise Farm which is situated in Gambrills. This is the location of the Ebb Tide Stables.
Horses Help Heroes offer different tiers of services with level one being ‘hanging out with horses’ to level two and level three being ‘conversations with horses’ and ‘enrichment with horses’ respectively.
Retd. Lt. Col. Bill Culp of the United States Army is one of the many volunteers of the program and also happens to be a veterinarian doctor. He says that being out in an open, cool area like a farm is relaxing for most people. He lives near the farm and comes to the farm almost every day to take care of the horses. He feeds the horses and cleans their stables which are two among the many other jobs he performs. He feels that interacting with horses gives much needed peace to any individual.
Veterans usually face a lot of challenges when they settle down after a war. These challenges include both physical and psychological challenges such as amputation, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been found that working with animals, specifically, horses can help build trust, confidence and give people new tools to face the various problems they might have. Horses, big and strong they might be, are still prey animals. They look for trust that a person is not going to harm them. Similarly, some veterans when they come to the farm are usually low on confidence about their abilities. Once a bond is established between a veteran and a horse, the change in human demeanor is almost instant. A two way trust is essential for this to work effectively and once that is achieved, the success of it becomes quite obvious.
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