Warriors and War Horses

“If you don’t intervene with the emotional aftermath of the war up-front and early, it can slide down a precipitous path to hell.” Sen. Max Cleland

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The Warriors and War Horses program at Macy Ray Farm is the heart of our operation.  We want to ensure a successful future for the thoroughbreds that come through our program.  Those thoroughbreds will assist veterans and trauma victims in transitioning to civilian life and the daily struggle brought on by that transition.  Program participants will be an integral part of the program and process; from acquiring the horse to competing and determining the best future for the horse.  Please note this program is free for veterans. 

Why?

Horses communicate non-verbally.  They rely on immediate feedback from their environment to survive.  It is by this communication structure that horse and human, together, enter into a learning rich environment.  This environment is full of relational problem solving that allows the person to learn emotional sensitivity, self and social awareness, self-management and effective communication skills and strategies.  There is a large body of evidence that suggests collaborating with the horse can be an excellent example of learning leadership competency.  This includes emotional intelligence, in essence horses don’t lie.  To this effect, the brains of “prey” animals, such as horses, are organized much like that of a traumatized individual, an example being a combat veteran.  The horse and the veteran are constantly scanning their environment for threats.  The horse, for one, senses hyper-vigilance instinctively and demands the individual to master internal regulation, but also the horse will not tolerate “bad behavior” in the same way that humans or dogs will.  However, unlike humans, horses remember past bad behavior but “forgive” it if the individual is currently behaving better in the moment.  By responding to and rewarding what an individual is doing in the present, rather than remembering and responding to what he or she did in the past, the horse provides immediate feedback to the client that the new social skills the client is practicing are effective.

Program Summary

When the individual first arrives, they will be matched with a horse.  This will the be the horse they will work with for the entirety of the program.  There is no set timeline for the program, instead we will go by the goals set out by each individual. These goals may change as the the individual progresses through the program and gains insight to their horses personality.  The ultimate goal is for the individual and the thoroughbred to compete in endurance riding.  Each combination will, most likely, take a different path to reach this goal.  To reach this goal, a plan will be outlined with each individual.

The Warriors and War Horses Program will include:

  • one on one sessions weekly with our founder and a LCSW between each individual and horse
  • group sessions each week between multiple horse and rider pairs
  • The individual will be eased into being responsible for tracking and logging ride information, health information, and general management notes
  • Individuals will have the option to be responsible for scheduling and establishing a routine in which a group of individuals rotates farm duties
  •  Opportunities for clinics, shows, and workshops

The weekly sessions will vary between unmounted and mounted, depending on the outlined goals. Natural horsemanship, equine therapy methods, and basic riding instruction will be employed through each session. Opportunities for clinics, shows, and workshops will be discussed as they become available.

Outcomes

  • Personal awareness & growth
  • Stress reduction
  • Live more fully in the present
  • Less burdened by guilt
  • Less focused on negative events
  • Increased self-esteem & confidence
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Increased trust
  • Can build on skills of responsibility, accountability and problem solving skills

If you are interested in learning more or becoming involved with our program please contact our farm manager and program director Andrea at Abalas14.ab@gmail.com.