Saturday, January 25, 2014
Saratoga War Horse
Have you heard of this program? I randomly DVR'd it on HRTV the other day and found my heart strings pulled when I watched it.
I've always been interested with the concept as horses (and any animal, really) for use in therapy. Years ago I volunteered at a therapeutic horseback riding program, and hope to become involved again once Ranch Boy Jr. is in school. I've heard how gentling and training a wild mustang can help incarcerated criminals. I've seen autistic kids of all ages learn to bond with horses, learn to ride, and overcome their fears.
But for some reason, this war veteran and OTTB program really made such an impact on me. I can't explain it but if you go to the Saratoga War Horse or HRTV website I think you can watch the program or clips of it.
There is such a history of horses being used (and losing their lives) in war. This is not the case nowadays, but one veteran on the show reflected that in the past, these horses would have been at war right there with them.
I love how they teach the veterans how to round pen and do groundwork such as lounging first, using people, not horses, so that they understand the concepts and are successful. I love that seeing how these men and women, who had given up feeling useful in society again, find purpose by working and bonding with the horse. Much like a veteran; a once brilliant, well-trained and conditioned racehorse that for some reason lost his or her career, can also find a second hope. The tears and testimonials from the veterans during the program are pretty powerful.
I can't pretend to remotely comprehend what it would be like to be at war and see and experience what these veterans go through during their tour. Nor can I fully understand why they would choose to do it, but how could I not be thankful for their service? However, so many of them return broken and unable to function back in the real world. Horses are unconditional and live in the moment, giving these men and women the chance to find purpose and confidence, and show them that they are needed.
To those of us who have an innate lifetime love of horses, horses are our therapy too, right? Imagine how different our world would be if everyone got to experience how horses can change your perspective on life and make it better.
Photos courtesy of the SWH Facebook page.