Healing on horseback

Eric Dehm
October 12, 2018 - 9:24 am

Photo courtesy War Horses for Veterans

There's a long history with horses and the military but in the modern era, the relationship has changed. While horses once carried our forces into battle, these days they are helping them ride away from the after-effects. 

 War Horses for Veterans is a non-profit based on the belief that the natural connection between horses and humans is something that can benefit our wounded warriors. It was co-founded by Army combat vet Patrick Benson and business owners Andy and Patricia Brown.

Photo courtesy War Horses for Veterans

After leaving the service Benson, who also serves as the Program Director, found work on ranches. It was work that had him on horseback regularly and while he initially saw it as just a job, he eventually found the experience life-changing. 

"I didn't realize working a horse was healing me," Benson said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show. "I don't get real touchy-feely and emotional and all that stuff but the biggest thing is there's something powerful about a thousand pound animal that, if you learn, you can control and work with as a partner with as little effort as possible... and it's very, very humbling because at the same time with that animal, if they don't want you on there, they're gonna get you off."

Photo courtesy War Horses for Veterans

After years of intentionally distancing himself from his military background, the healing he experienced with the horses led Benson to want to help other combat vets who are struggling like he was. He and his team are doing that through War Horses for Veterans' free 3-day program in Stillwell, Kansas. Participants learn horsemanship and connect with their fellow vets. Most importantly they get to know the horses, who Benson believes are the best therapists around.

"They can sense everything," Benson said. "So you can put up a mask, but it doesn't matter. they can see right through it."

Photo courtesy War Horses for Veterans

So if you're a combat vet who's struggling, a little or a lot, and the traditional methods or medications aren't working out for you, Patrick Benson and the War Horses for Veterans team want you to contact them, and set up an appointment for a different type of therapy. 

You can hear the full interview with War Horses for Veterans Co-Founder/Director Patrick Benson below.

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