Disabled and wounded veterans get new therapy opportunities with horses

A new equine therapy effort is underway at Dreams On Horseback to assist members of the military who may be injured or looking for ways to find peace. (WSYX/WTTE)

Military veterans are healing together with help from some friends with hooves. A new equine therapy effort is underway at Dreams On Horseback to assist members of the military who may be injured or looking for ways to find peace.

The non-profit group said the family of Darlene Bell donated a $10,000 hydraulic lift in honor of her late husband’s memory. As the Military Connection Coordinator, Bell spent the past year working on the program so that disabled people can mount a horse with some help from volunteer handlers.

This donation will allow the facility to serve individuals, who before, would have been excluded from the therapeutic riding program. It will allow them to say “yes” to military and veterans who wish to ride, but for whom mounting is difficult or impossible.

Bob Fown was serving at a Louisiana army base when he broke his neck. Now using a wheelchair, Fown said being around a horse was intimidating at first. But now his time at the barn is a stress reliever.

“They can find a companion in the horse. Someone that gives them attention and as much affection as you will give them.

By trusting a horse, you are giving up some control and learning to trust other beings as well. That is a good step toward your road of recovery.

Learning to trust the world again,” said Fown.

Nancy Danko was deployed to Iraq and suffers from P-T-S-D. Danko said the horses don’t judge her. “They tend to make me feel like I can peel back my layers. I am always guarded. Always kind of struggling to let people in, but I can be completely vulnerable around these animals."

I was chasing normal after I returned home. I couldn’t find what used to be because it had changed 55 so I was trying to find a new normal.”

An Air National Guard Chaplain also participates in the equine therapy at the Blacklick farm. Tom Whiteman said he chooses a special horse because she has a calming impact on him. “You just lean on the horse and just relax and breathe kind of in sync with the horse, and it is amazingly relaxing for me,” said Whiteman.

Fown said he hopes more veterans try the equine therapy and get use front the lift. “We ‘ve got to keep trying brothers to get back out there.

Brothers and sisters. This is a way to get back out and get back out in the community.Little steps at a time, but then we can make it.”

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