Humans and horses have had a very unique bond going back for centuries. Horses have helped humans in regards to farming, traveling, riding for pleasure, war, and other things. Time and time again these beautiful animals have proven themselves to be sentient beings. Able to understand, feel and act upon perceptions. All this being said, it is quite strange that up until very recently that horses have not been used as therapy animals.
Across the United States different organizations have sprung up which use horses in therapy with veterans. How this works is that it is believed that forging a relationship with a horse will offer a veteran suffering from reintegration into society troubles or other mental health issues a chance at finding a new purpose in life. Many examples of this being done has shown that the change in the mental state of the veterans’ has been nothing short of miraculous. Men and women who were previously filled with pain and despair are now hopeful just by being paired with one of these marvelous creatures.
The documentary, directed by David Glossberg, shows us a few different examples of veterans who have entered the BraveHearts program which involves pairing them with a horse or horses as a form of treatment.
Veteran suicide numbers are astonishing. Sad really. These people have put their own lives on the line to defend their country and find when they come home after going through the ravages of war or combat damaged physically or mentally that there are precious few resources available to them to heal or deal with their new reality. While the government aide has been shown to be lacking, individuals have stepped in to try and fill the gaps.
BraveHearts offers services to veterans for free. One of their most popular programs is Operation Mustang. Using the healing power of horses, here they use wild mustangs, which are rounded up in the United States by the organization. Now, some might think this sounds like a crazy idea as these horses are, well, wild. Sounds dangerous. Actually mustangs are great to work with and most want to trust humans despite the trauma they have been through during these round ups. Veterans are taught not to “break” the horses but learn how to “gentle” them.
The benefits to veterans include such things as emotional, cognitive, social, and even physical. All this leads to improvements in things like self-esteem, trust, attachment to the community, and self-worth and a decrease in depression, PTSD symptoms, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
A film like this really sheds light on the great work being done to help out veterans and how humans and horses can really forge a bond which is beneficial for both.