It's well-known that horses can have a calming impact on people. Veterans in Western New York are tapping into that potential to help with their post-traumatic stress disorder. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Equine Assisted Learning Program helps veterans with their post traumatic stress disorder

  • Group sessions are taking place at the Whirlwind Veterans & Warrior Retreat

  • Since horses live in the present, giving genuine reactions, it helps people to learn to live the same way

The Equine Assisted Learning Program is currently taking place at the Whirlwind Veterans & Warrior Retreat. The sixth session just wrapped up last week and learning is done in a group setting. 

Trainers say that there are many reasons why learning to work with horses is so beneficial for veterans struggling with PTSD. These animals mainly communicate non-verbally. When people learn what those cues mean, it helps them to look at their own emotional codes and how they impact others. 

Since horses live completely in the present, giving genuine reactions, it also helps people to learn how to live in the present. 

"Suicide and PTSD is on the rise, especially in the pandemic that we're having. It's very important that we're able to give options to these veterans to be able to get out and get some fresh air, sit by the pond, or spend some time with the horses," says Dawn Samuelson, NEIGH founder.

One of the veterans utilizing the program is Ralph Sirianni. He has now worked with the horses for five sessions. 

"When I first set foot in there, actually the first couple of times, it's quite imposing. They're big. You're a little bit apprehensive about getting close to them. You learn tools and they give you the opportunity to learn how to talk to them and get a response back. It's really unbelievable," explains Sirianni. 

To learn more about equine therapy, visit here.