The War Horse Project is currently accepting applications for their next round of equine assisted therapy for veterans and first responders diagnosed with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI).
The program will run from July 15 to Oct. 28 at a private facility, minutes from Garrison Petawawa. Funded by Morale and Welfare Office of the Canadian Armed Forces, The War Horse Project will be accepting 12 participants for the next session.
“If somebody feels like they’re stuck in a rut and they’re not moving forward, they’ve been to other therapies and things have helped but they’re kind of in a place that they’re not moving forward, this would be a great opportunity to try and get past that block. Sometimes, it takes a different experience to allow those other therapies to kind of make sense and fall into place,” said Alison Vandergragt, Program Director at Hope Reins Equine Assisted Therapy.
The focus of the program is on recovery and resilience.
“So, looking at moving forward looking to fill their tool box with skills and things they can use and do as part of their recovery,” explained Vandergragt.
Participants will be working with horses through various care-taking activities leading up to riding the horses. They will learn various aspects of caring for a horse from basics of safety to building a rapport with the horse to getting the horse to move forward while the participant is on the ground.
“The purpose of that is to explore just what it takes to get a horse to listen and do what it’s being asked to do. A lot of that will translate into the saddle. So, once they’ve experienced and are confident with horses on the ground, we’ll start with riding,” added Vandergragt.
Vandergragt says that participants serve as an encouragement to one another throughout the program.
“They’ll support one another. When someone is feeling a little unconfident on being either on the ground or back of the horse, the peers will help, offer their advice to help the confidence level,” explained Vandergragt.
The program’s first priority are veterans who have a medical diagnosis and a deployment history. However, Vandergragt says this is not a prerequisite. Each application is assessed on an individual basis but those applications not accepted for this round are kept on file for the next session.
“If for some reason someone can’t be accommodated in this round we will do our best to accommodate for the next round,” mentioned Vandergragt.
It is expected that the next session, the third and final one to be sponsored by Morale and Welfare services, will be held in the spring of 2017.
The War Horse Project, launched in July of 2014, is an initiative of the Hope Reins Equine Assisted Therapy. The project is a 16-week program broken into two phases to help veterans and first responders manage OSI both on an individual and family level.
To register for the War Horse Project visit the Hope Reins Equine Assisted Therapy website.