TenthAmendmentNH

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is helping combat veterans cope

Written on:October 7, 2014
Comments
Add One

Horse Therapy Helps Veterans Break Through PTSD

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2012 – A Pentagon Channel documentary sheds light on how military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are finding help through the power of horse therapy.

“Recon: Unbridled” highlights “Horses for Veterans,” at Flag is Up Farms in California, an intensive three-day program designed to help veterans of all ages who have PTSD, free of charge.

“I think No. 1 is to work with veterans who have given up on life,” said Monty Roberts, a renowned horse whisperer. Roberts uses his horse-friendly “Joining Up” techniques on abused and mistreated horses, and adapts it for self-isolating veterans who have post-traumatic stress.

Roberts’ program is about learning to trust people by choosing to, rather than by force, he said. By using the language of the horse or the stress of the veteran to communicate, he added, his program engenders trust.

“When they trust you, they will migrate toward you, rather than going away [out of fear],” he said. “Horses are flight animals. They are frightened of everything they don’t understand. If they don’t trust it, they need to get away from it, and that’s how a veteran feels, too.”

The old style of “breaking” horses often involved using violence to force them into submission, but Roberts’ style, which he calls “gentling” or “natural horsemanship,” is nonviolent.

“They get nothing from the fight, so they literally give up,” he pointed out.

Veteran Alejandra Sanchez is on her fourth visit to Flag is Up Farms, but remembers her first time like it was yesterday.

“I have never been so scared in my life,” she said. “I wasn’t even that scared when I was in Iraq. My anxiety was through the roof, because I had to face that I had post-traumatic stress.

“Every night you knew when the sun set, action was going to happen,” she continued, recalling her service in Iraq. “I remember coming to the oddly weird term of ‘I might not make it.’”

Sanchez faced her fears head-on in the “Horses for Veterans” program.

“You have to work with people you don’t know, and you already have trust issues,” she said. “It definitely brought out all of the symptoms I face, but at an intense level I normally haven’t dealt with.” Sanchez said she had to learn to calm herself down for the horses to learn to trust her. “The horses would not respond to me if I was anxious, angry or violent,” she said.

Veteran Alicia Watkins isolated herself from friends and family and lost everything she had after she returned from tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. She was homeless, living in her car for a year, and said she’d lost her dignity.

“I know what it’s like to get to the point where you no longer want to live,” she said. “I remember going on convoys and not being able to handle it.” By the time she returned home in 2007, she’d had many near-death experiences, she said.

When she accepted an invitation to attend Roberts’ program, she showed up huddled in layers of jackets, a hoodie and sunglasses. Roberts worked with Watkins to help her earn the trust of a horse after he saw room for extreme change in her, he said.

“Hearing him talk about training the horses, I began to realize how horses and my PTSD were … the same,” Watkins said. She said she related to the horses’ “flight mentality,” because that’s what she saw in herself.

“To reprogram the horses to be domesticated was something I could identify with,” she said, noting they had been neglected or abused by former owners. “I found something that could almost immediately erase the pain and suffering of all those years. “Within an hour, I was a totally different person.”

When her horse began to trust her and obey her commands, Roberts said, Watkins “became the most exuberant, outgoing participant.”

“The change in her was like night and day,” he said. He invited her back to train for three days with a new class of veterans.

Watkins said she saw herself in the new class of veterans. “To see that shell open up and see that person transform, it’s so beautiful to watch yourself in someone else,” she said. “‘I feel like a victim’ becomes ‘I feel like a victor.’”

After working through her isolation and related issues with PTSD in “Horses for Veterans,” Roberts said, he thinks Watkins is gaining the ability to think through her problems.

Today, more than 30 Veterans Affairs medical centers participate in horse therapy for service members and veterans with challenges ranging from mental and emotional to physical.

“The horses we see that were traumatized and abused never forget it,” Roberts said. “But you can mask it over with good behavior, and that’s the same with veterans. They’re not going to forget the trauma they went through. Their positive behavior outweighs it.”

“Horses for Veterans” has given veterans such as Sanchez and Watkins a new start.

“To see how horses can come back to a place of reconnection and bonding lets me know I can recover from this,” Watkins said. “I can be the new old me.”

Share

Happy Labor Day, Comrade!

Written on:September 3, 2014
May Day-Labor Day

The labor movement has grown away from the need to establish respect and dignity of individuals who sell their labor to business owners. Labor unions are large, powerful political institutions that seek to grow and maintain their own power, generally at the expense of workers they represent, and contrary to the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Share
Read more...

Medicaid Expansion is Not Good for NH

Written on:March 4, 2014
NH_capitol

Michael and James Sununu March 3, 2014 As originally published in the Nashua Telegraph Politics and governing aren’t the same thing, but they are inevitably intertwined. As much as we would like otherwise, political considerations often drive policy decisions. Sometimes the repercussions are small. In the pending decision over Medicaid expansion, however, the stakes are huge and it would be a serious mistake for Republicans in the state Senate to make this…

Share
Read more...

Obamacare: “Obviously Inadmissible”

Written on:March 4, 2014
obamacare_protesters

March 3, 2014 4:00 AM By Louie Gohmert & Joseph E. Schmitz In its landmark ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court got one issue right, muffed the other. Of all the problems with the Affordable Care Act, two fundamental flaws in President Obama’s self-described “legacy” are that the legislation unconstitutionally originated in the Senate, and that it violates the Tenth Amendment — the final provision of the Bill…

Share
Read more...

Sen Kelly Ayotte Demands Savings to Pay for Unemployment Benefit Extension, Repeal Military Pension Cuts

Written on:January 9, 2014
Ayotte

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced an amendment to unemployment benefits legislation pending in the Senate that would pay for a three-month extension of temporary long-term unemployment benefits and repeal the unfair Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) reduction for military retirees – including disabled military retirees – that was included in the recent budget agreement.

Share
Read more...

Oppose the President’s Plunge into War in the Middle East

Written on:September 4, 2013
ObamaSyriaBombs

The president and his war council have not presented a compelling case for war against Syria without its inevitable spillover to Iran and Israel.

Share
Read more...

Act Now to Oppose Senator Feinstein’s Misguided Weapons Ban

Written on:March 1, 2013
2A

TenthAmendmentNH opposes S150 because it tramples on the natural right of citizens to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Share
Read more...

New Federal Gun Control Proposals Miss the Target

Written on:March 1, 2013
Minuteman

Liberty loving citizens should be skeptical about the efficacy and constitutionality of new federal gun control legislation.

Share
Read more...

Support Secure Schools by Supporting HR 133, Repeal of the Gun-Free Zones Act

Written on:January 8, 2013
criminal safe zone

We support HR 133 and urge you to contact your Congressional representative and demand passage of HR 133, Repeal of the Gun-Free Zones Act of 1990 and Amendments.

Share
Read more...

Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Hikes on the Horizon

Written on:August 14, 2012
Taxhikes

Starting January 1, 2013, Americans will face a $494 billion tax increase, the highest ever in one year.

Share
Read more...