Horse program for vets launched in Calif.

Mr. Bad Deal, a retiree of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (and missing an eye) enjoys his new life at Healing Arenas.

Mr. Bad Deal, a retiree of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (and missing an eye) enjoys his new life at Healing Arenas. Sargeantchilipepper, who has an adoption pending, receives a brushing.

Escalon, Calif.— “Stable Survivors,” a new project designed by Healing Arenas, Inc. to address the emotional wellbeing of the area’s underserved veterans population and their families, has been launched.

An opening ceremony and demonstrations of the new program will be offered June 25 during an open house at Healing Arenas Ranch in Escalon,  Calif., beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The initiative pairs EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association—(www.eagala.org) certified mental health professionals and equine specialists, with adoptable retired racehorses in a program to help veterans adapt to civilian life.

“Horses help with transitions that humans experience throughout life. Overcoming the emotional obstacles, feeling accepted, valued and empowered are essential steps in the recovery process of achieving a full life outside of active duty,” explained Julie Baker, Founder and President of Healing Arenas, Inc. “We are looking forward to providing tools for veterans and their families to reconnect and succeed while helping the horses prepare for new careers after racing.”

A horse offers comfort to participants at a Healing Arenas session.

A horse offers comfort to participants at a Healing Arenas session.

In a recent program in Arkansas, Ricky Derring, a Green Beret and sergeant first class, said he has a lot in common with the horses. “I’ve been in a lot of combat situations,” he said, estimating that he’s suffered from PTSD for the past four or five years. “I was hiding my symptoms for a while.” Baker says, “People connect with horses in a way that cannot be duplicated inside an office. The horses are nonjudgmental and provide realistic metaphors that soldiers can relate to. I believe the former racehorses (who have their own stories) are the added benefit to providing these services. The addition of a rural atmosphere is the environment our servicemen/women need to renew, refresh and support each other.”

Horses and veterans participate in a new program at Healing Arenas in California.

Horses and veterans participate in a new program at Healing Arenas in California.

The Healing Arenas, Inc. (healingarenas.org) mission is “to support emotional healing through equine interaction and provide safe and restorative homes for retired racehorses.” Established as a non-profit 501c3 organization, it is sponsored in part by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF). It is the first program in the country to exclusively utilize retired racehorses for emotional healing. The TRF was established in 1983 to save retired racehorses from neglect and abuse (trfinc.org).

The “Stable Survivors” project benefits both horse and human, much like other projects offered by Healing Arenas, such as Second Chances California (SCC) (trfsecondchances.org). SCC offered EAGALA personal growth and development services, as well as a vocational program to teach new life skills to probationers for their re-entry into society after incarceration.

EAGALA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization developed in 1999 to address the need for resources, education and professionalism in the fields of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning. With over 4000 members in 49 countries, the association has set the standard for professional excellence in how horses and humans work together to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families and groups worldwide.

2 responses to “Horse program for vets launched in Calif.”

  1. dependentranch

    Thank you SO much = we are so excited to help our countrymen/women readjust to life outside of duty!

  2. Rob Davis

    I always enjoy reading positive horse stories and this one is surly that. A win / win for everyone. Thanks for sharing this great story and I wish everyone the best in achieving all your your goals this for the Vet’s as well as for the OTTB horses too. Awesome idea for both sides. Ejoy and stay safe.

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