Promoting the healing and improvement of the physical, mental and psychological well-being of wounded military personnel and veterans
PATH International Equine Services for Heroes provides equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for wounded service personnel and veterans.
Safe, professional and ethical EAAT is provided in a compassionate manner at established, local PATH International Centers.
More than 800 PATH International member centers provide EAAT, which includes therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, horsemanship skills, carriage driving, interactive vaulting and learning.
At these centers, individuals with various needs gain greater independence through their involvement with horses.
- Engaging veterans and military personnel as participants in EAAT has proven to be very successful.
- EAAT has shown to be especially beneficial for veterans and wounded service personnel with the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and many other physical, emotional and cognitive conditions.
- The PATH International Equine Services for Heroes initiative officially launched in April 2007, the culmination of years of dedication and hard work by PATH International centers, instructors and therapists to provide EAAT to military personnel.
- To date, almost 200 PATH International member centers offer PATH International Equine Services for Heroes.
The Benefits from EAAT for veterans and service personnel with special needs include:
Physical: The movement of the horse’s gait at a walk is similar to a human’s walking motion. Veterans with mobility impairments, including amputations and spinal cord injuries, may benefit from this simulated gait, which may ultimately assist the participant in relearning how to walk. All riders, including able-bodied riders, benefit as this motion helps to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination and overall fitness.
Social: The equine environment provides a safe environment for veterans to share issues and fears. They bond with fellow veterans and volunteers, as well as the horses, who accept individuals for who they are regardless of physical, emotional or social abilities.
Cognitive: Order and direction are familiar skills to veterans and military personnel. These are required to learn about the horses, equipment and stable. Good judgment is strengthened in making decisions during all activities.
Emotional: Bonding with a large animal can be emotionally satisfying and comforting. Learning new skills can be satisfying, leading to increased self-confidence and the knowledge that still more can be accomplished in their lives.