Our nation’s heroes are the men and women that join the US armed forces and defend our rights and beliefs. However, what about the people that help our heroes when they come back home?

Those people are heroes in their own right. They go out of their way to help veterans get back on their feet, donating their time and money selflessly.

Located in the Ebb Tide Stables at Sunrise Farm, Horses Help Heroes is a program that was originally started by a wounded veteran. The idea is that the relationships built between man and beast benefit both parties. Disabled veterans and their families, as well as those that have lost family members, can experience one of three tiers of services.

Tier one is called “Hanging with Horse”. This is just spending time around the animals to familiarize themselves with the animals’ behavior. It allows participants to hang out with the gentle giants and watch how they behave, after all, horses do have strong personalities of their own.

The second tier is “Conversations with Horses”. As it sounds, this is a little more in depth. Physical touch and soft speech calm the horses as well as set a level of communication between man and animal.

The third tier is called “Enrichment with Horses”. This is structured to be a more serious form of therapy. It is often specifically tailored to the needs of the participant. Riding lessons, therapeutic riding, and direct care for the animals are included in this tier. It generally runs in either an intense single week program or stretched into a couple weeks.

Member of the board for Horses Help Heroes, Emily Timmreck-King, said, “What we’ve found, and what the literature supports, is working with an animal, particularly a horse, can improve confidence, can help build trust, and can give people new tools to tackle some of those challenges they may be facing.”

She says most veterans are excited to work with the horses, however, some are nervous and hesitant. It doesn’t take long for them to gain confidence, though. Citing one case in which the participant refused to even leave the parking lot upon first arriving, but a month later actually bought a horse of his own.

The owner of the Ebb Tide Stables, Jeff Dwyer, said that veterans and the horses correlate well because post-war, veterans have a lot of fears. At the same time, horses are generally very timid themselves.

Not only do they have plenty of horses and helping hands, they also always have a veteran or active duty military member on site. This way veterans always have someone who can relate to their situation and experiences. “We need this to be a safe place for them,” said Dwyer.

It seems that comfort is felt by both parties as the veterans build trusting relationships with the horses. Timmreck-King said that they have found working with horses builds a trust. Equally, it arms PTSD victims with new tools to tackle the issues they face every day.

It is so amazing not only that charities like Horses Help Heroes exist, but that they are focusing on some of the things many of us wouldn’t consider a person needing. Such things as an emotional release and connection provided by these beautiful creatures.

If you appreciate the work this charity does, SHARE this with your friends so others can see!

Want to get involved and DONATE? Check out www.horseshelpheroes.org