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Countless numbers of veterans return home and face a long battle with depression. One way the Department of Veterans Affair has suggested addressing this is through the use of equine therapy.

Presence

When you’re around an unpredictable animal that weighs up to 2,000 pounds, you have to focus and be present. Veterans thrive in this atmosphere. It demands that they focus on something other than their emotions, while simultaneously providing them with a purpose, taking care of another living being. During the grooming process, a healing connection between human and horse occurs. Because the veteran is in such close physical proximity to the animal, they are not only present and in the moment, but in the middle of forming a bond.

Creates an Opportunity for New Memories

Through equine therapy, veterans are able to create positive new memories. As veterans work to reintegrate successfully into civilian life, they typically are still struggling with very vivid memories from combat. One way to help alleviate these stressful memories is to replace them with newer, more positive memories.  Giving a veteran a new mental “place to go” in moments of stress – for example, picturing their last ride through a peaceful field – can be a coping mechanism to get them through a triggered emotion.

Provides a Partner

Anyone who has spent time in the military understands and appreciates how important a good “buddy” or partner is. Both in training and on the front lines, military members grow to rely on a great partner to help guide them towards a common goal. Often times when veterans return home from service, they find that aspect lacking in civilian life.  By working with a horse over several weeks as in equine therapy, veterans are offered a new partner relationship with another living creature.

As we have said before, veterans do not have it easy once they return home. One way they can more successfully reintegrate into civil society is through equine therapy. Through this unique form of therapy, veterans are offered a chance to stay present, make memories and bond with a partner.