HORSES CAN HEAL. Say it with me, HORSES CAN HEAL.
Part of me laughs when I see a new article or news story on the healing powers of horses, and animals in general, but it still seems to be a new concept to so many, so let’s talk about it again. Horses (and animals) have a way of connecting with us that goes beyond anything we can describe. It’s a language that’s unwritten, yet universal. When our Veterans return home, and suddenly the emotional rug is pulled right from under their boots, humans often cannot help them bridge the gap from military to civilian life.
Horses once carried our warriors into battle, now then can help them “come home” again. We all become products of our environment. If chaos and daily threats to our safety are the new normal, then imagine how disconcerting a quiet, orderly life feels afterward. Add to that any physical and non-physical injuries, and it probably feels like you’re trapped in the weirdest movie, and you can’t find the remote to shut it off. Carry that inside you, so as not to upset your loved ones for a while, and think about how you might be feeling…
Now, imagine a large arena. You’re safe. The only other soul in that space with you has four legs and an inquisitive expression. You approach each other tentatively, and when you meet, the horse blows a slow puff of breath against the back of your hand. I don’t care who you are, or what you’ve experienced in your life, that is one of the most grounding moments a human can have. “Hello, let’s be friends.”
Working with animals, even if you’re not used to quite large ones, can take you out of your own head. It forces you to think in different ways, it forces you to be present and alert, while still calm. It forces you to communicate, in an intimate way, with another soul who has no judgement of you or your past. It might be difficult, if even stressful to try to verbally share your experiences with the humans your closest to, but for whatever reason, placing your open palm against a warm, furry neck, and feeling them press their face into your chest, trusting you, being there with you. It’s powerful. Most importantly, it acts as both a salve to all manner of wounds, and a tap into your keg of turbulant emotions.
I’m happy to see, more and more facilities and programs are popping up. Our Veterans need all the resources we can provide to them, to give them back the lives they deserve. Our local paper, The Columbus Dispatch had an article this week on a facility in Blacklick, OH. Even if you don’t read the article, look at the photos. They speak volumes. http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170226/equine-therapy-eases-combat-veterans-post-traumatic-stress
I don’t care who you voted for or how you feel about the man in the Oval Office. Our Veterans need us, and there’s plenty we can do. We can volunteer, we can make donations, and neither of those have to take much of your time, but it’s time and money well-spent. A small price to pay for our freedom. Please say thank you to a Vet today, but them a coffee, offer a handshake, or find a local center offering programs they benefit from and make a donation. Every little bit can make a big impact.