While the promotion of equine therapeutic services for veterans is not new, few people are aware that there are actually multiple programs available for our veterans, and two that, although sharing the same name, are distinctly different. Horses For Heroes, which is now called Path International Equine Services For Heroes, is conducted through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, (PATH) while Horses4Heroes is an independent association.
Here is an excerpt from PATH’s website:
PATH INTERNATIONAL EQUINE SERVICES FOR HEROES
“Appreciating the power of the horse to change lives is our goal,” said Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International) Past President Dr. Paul Spiers, “and PATH International wants to provide positive change for these very special lives. Our service personnel have fought to preserve our freedom, and, for many, at a very dear cost. We must be certain that if our wounded service personnel and veterans need and want this kind of help, they will get the best PATH International has to offer.”
PATH International Equine Services for Heroes Mission
PATH International Equine Services for Heroes assists military veterans through services provided by PATH International members and by providing leadership and guidance for equine assisted activities and therapies.
To accomplish this mission, PATH International centers connect with Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics, as well as individual veterans. Veterans of any age can benefit from the program and by being involved with equines.
Horses4Heroes, on the other hand, “is able-bodied, affordable horseback riding for returning combat veterans and the entire family, which also needs healing and therapeutic interactions with horses,” said Sydney Knott, President/Executive Director of Horses4Heroes, Inc.
Here is a description of the programs they offer:
A health and well ness program founded by Horses4Heroes, Stay Strong includes “back In The Saddle” for adult men and women, “Stay Strong For Families and Individuals”, and “8*9*10” a Stay Strong program for kids ages 8-10.
A Mommy and Me style program that meets twice per week, HorsePlay teaches young children age appropriate riding skills, horse care, and maintenance, as well as fun arts and crafts.
Teaching English, Western and Dressage, Horse 101, is meant for beginning through advanced riders and also offers clinics, events and horse shows. In Horse 101, either individuals, or the entire family can participate.
Operation Free Ride
Offering free, supervised weekly riding lessons, Operation Free Ride allows service members an escape from the challenges of deployment. Also available to anyone who has a family member that is seriously ill, this program does not require membership with Horses4Heroes.
Horses4Heroes also provides services for law enforcement officers, firefighters, First Responders, critical care and hospice nurses, special needs school teachers, families that are suffering with serious chronic illnesses and/or disabilities, and individuals who have physically dangerous and/or emotionally demanding jobs.
While both programs are different ion their approach, with Horses4Heroes working more with able-bodied veterans and incorporating their family members, and Horses For Heroes working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide equine assisted therapeutic services to military veterans, both provide an invaluable service to those who serve our country.
Horse and man photo available from Shutterstock