Riding for a Reason

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The horses are surprisingly calm as they walk down the bustling steel and concrete corridor of New York City’s Fifth Avenue. A few of their riders are somber, subdued by the gravity of the ride’s purpose. Others are giddy, happy to be here—to be alive. Bright yellow ribbons ornament the horses’ manes, fluttering gently as they catch the breeze. The ribbons aren’t festive decorations, however. Each bears the name of a veteran lost to suicide... Continue reading 

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Standing Together | How Horses Are Helping First Responders

War Horses for Veteran co-founder Patrick Benson stands next to a bay horse.

U.S. Army veteran Patrick Benson knows firsthand the physical and emotional strain veterans feel on a daily basis. He served in the Infantry from 1998 to 2004, spending time in combat zones throughout the Middle East. After he retired, Benson, like many, struggled to transition back to civilian life, battling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other invisible scars of service. The young veteran found light at the end of what could have been a very dark tunnel by studying under John Lyons and becoming a horse trainer. Horses, he believes, saved his life... Continue reading

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How Horses and Cowboy Living are Helping Veterans

veteran Eric Yorty rides a horse at Horses for Heroes NM Cowboy Up

The bearded cowboy looks completely at home in these environs. At the Crossed Arrows Ranch, a small working ranch in the high desert country south of Santa Fe, rolling hills of chaparral and dirt roads extend to a horizon punctuated by the dusky, towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Against this backdrop, the cowboy prepares his horse with the practiced, assured motions of someone who’s performed this routine many times before. With his black felt hat, pressed shirt, and canvas work vest, he looks straight from a calendar... Continue reading

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Saving Each Other

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“I was scared of horses, but it was like, I’m going to die anyway, so….” This is how Mitchell Hedlund, 27, convinced himself to join BraveHearts, an Illinois-based veteran recovery program that offers equine-assisted activities and therapy. He joined the program in 2015 and then became a member of its Operation Mustang—the first program to have military veterans gentle wild BLM mustangs... Continue reading

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For Love of Rodeo and Country

Stephany Harrington runs barrels at the PAFRA Championship Rodeo.

A rodeo association created by military members for military members is making it possible for those who serve to compete in the sport despite the challenges of the armed forces and military life. The Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association (PAFRA) was formed in 2000 by three Air Force Master Sergeants and a retired Army Sergeant Major who shared a dream: to create a rodeo association that would offer servicemembers, veterans, and their families the high standards and community found in the military... Continue reading

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Horses Healing Heroes

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After 20 years of military life and multiple deployments, Jeff and Laura Unsworth know the toll military service can have on both the service member and his or her family. Their horses have been a source of comfort and strength for both Jeff and Laura while Jeff served in the Army, then the National Guard, and now in the Maryland Active Guard Reserve. The Unsworths’ desire to share the healing power of horses with other military families led them to create the Brave Heroes Equine Adventure & Riding Therapy (Brave HEART) program in 2012... Continue reading

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