Blackhorse 4 Heroes

Equine Therapy for Disabled Veterans

325 Amity Road, Bethany, CT  06524
(516) 449-9610
To serve those who served us, by providing recreational equine therapy for veterans and others in need.

The Veteran Experience

Blackhorse 4 Heroes was developed to improve the veteran experience by understanding the various conditions the soldier experiences in combat. We teach these different facets to veterans of limited functioning during our therapy sessions. Their recovery is further encouraged with the unique discipline of driven equine sport. This interaction rewards in ways that cannot otherwise be achieved.

One of the core facets of the veteran experience is the inability to communicate with once familiar people, places, and things. We find that the extraordinary events experienced in the combat theater, over a long period of time actually become ordinary. This provides a library of thoughts that are inappropriate for interacting with family and friends. We use this library of thoughts to formulate sentences, and if those thoughts are inappropriate to the audience, communication is inhibited. This results in stress related to the ability to be social. Since the condition limits interaction, it also limits experiences and the mental library that needs to be developed to interact again. Without stimulation in the non-combat environment, the condition will not improve and in some cases may degrade into depression or other mental health concerns.

Honor is like love, it is a human emotion that, unless experienced, cannot be appreciated.

Brad Bertele, President, Blackhorse 4 Heroes

Horses communicate with body language which provides a calm, non-judgemental platform for veterans to trust and communicate with them through touch and feel. Since many veterans may be physically impaired, our program includes a carriage adapted to accept a wheelchair. Those with PTSD learn to reduce their stress and relax through the physical exercise required. Their problems seem to disappear when they’re driving a carriage by communicating with the horse. Both able-bodied and disabled folks become equals with reins in their hands.

But why horses?

Equine therapy at Blackhorse 4 Heroes uses horses for interaction and trust building by communicating with body language. Horses are prey animals and as such are very attentive to a person’s body language. Simple tasks such as grooming a horse provide nearly instant social interaction that cannot be done in normal verbal methods for the veteran. You can watch a veteran pick up a brush and move to the horse; the horse reacts with caution; the soldier slows his actions to calm and assure the animal. Once the grooming commences the horse can be seen relaxing, and in fact trusting the veteran. In minutes you can see the veteran relax as the stress from not having social interaction is removed. This results in a dramatic reduction in stress and allows the veteran to have confidence to re-connect with family and friends.

What makes the driving experience even more rewarding is the team work between the driven horse and the driver. In driving there is a much greater demand for equality between equine and human. This mutual respect is a great source of healing.

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