Today’s Solutions: August 11, 2022

In the village of Honeoye Falls, New York, an unusual partnership is taking root. 200 acres in the town is home to nonprofit EquiCenter, an equine therapy center focused on supporting veterans with PTSD and rehabilitating wild mustangs with a mutually beneficial training program.

Many of the participating veterans struggle with PTSD, depression, and anxiety, while the mustangs, rounded up by US officials to control population numbers, are wild and distrustful of humans. Working together, they’re both finding confidence and calm.

There are up to 100,000 wild horses living across the US, but lack of resources and invasion into populated areas has forced the Bureau of Land Management to round many up and send them to private farms to manage herd numbers. Unfortunately, their difficult-to-train nature means many of these horses end up living in government paddocks for their whole lives or are euthanized. By training the mustangs, EquiCenter is providing a better future for these animals and the people who care for them.

Using a training method called natural horsemanship, which focuses on communicating with a horse via body language, EquiCenter partners veterans with horses so they can work together over many months. By building up trust and confidence, the horses get more comfortable with human presence and the veterans can invest their time in a purposeful therapeutic activity.

Iraq veteran Luann Van Peursem explains to The Guardian how she sees many parallels between the lives of these wild horses and veterans: “Coming back from Iraq, you just don’t have a lot of trust in mankind, and you just kind of isolate.”

Animals are powerful therapeutic tools, but EquiCenter has taken the traditional equine therapy model one step further and created a symbiotic healing relationship between horses and humans that have, in many ways, been abandoned by society. We encourage you to read the full Guardian feature piece below to learn more about EquiCenter’s program.

Image source: EquiCenter

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