HRF’s programs help active military, veterans, and first responders find their transition into healing using equine assisted services, ultimately supporting them and giving them back freedom and independence. Research shows wounded warriors, who participated in equine-assisted activities, can experience physical, emotional, and psychological rewards. Participants with impaired mobility experience increased balance, muscle control, and strength. Riding and equine interaction motivates participants with learning or intellectual impairments (Traumatic Brain Injury-TBI), and helps to increase concentration, calmness, and independence. The key to the success of these programs is done through partnerships with supportive military related organizations and communities. They serve as horse leaders, side-walkers, morale boosters and program volunteers. Our programs through utilizing equine assisted psychotherapy/learning, therapeutic riding, and equine driving facilitated learning, allow us to help our military, and first responder personnel find their transition into healing.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experiential for emotional growth and learning. it is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the individual client and horse to address treatment goals. EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on soldiers, first responders and their families. EAP addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, PTSD, TBI, memory retention, anger issues, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EAP. This course uses Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) for it structure, and certified team.
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is similar to EAP but where the focus is on learning or educational goals. EAL still involves the team of mental health professional and horse professional working with the clients and horses. The focus however is on education and learning specific skills as defined by the individual or group, such as improved leadership skills for a group, or resiliency training for our military warriors. We utilize EAL with our pre-deployment program offering team building and transitioning from home to war and their return. This course uses Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) for it structure, and certified team.
NATHAN MARTENS AZ MEMORIAL CARRIAGE DRIVING PROGRAM
Equine Driving Facilitated Learning (EDFL)
Equine Driving facilitated learning and mental health, uses the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy, with the participation of an Arizona licensed therapist via the carriage for ground work. Horse Rhythm Foundation uses this discipline specifically to help veterans, and law enforcement, and firefighter personnel with physical disabilities that are unable to do traditional EAGALA EAP/EAL due to their limitations/gait on the ground. Therapists are also EAGALA certified.
Therapeutic riding uses equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of active military, veterans, and first responders with disabilities. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. Throughout the world, there are thousands of individuals with special needs who experience the rewarding benefits of horseback riding. A disability does not have to limit a person from riding horses. In fact, experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors. HRF uses Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), instructors for this riding program.
Pre-Deployment Program (PDP):
Horse Rhythm is very proactive with our troops. HRF has a pre-deployment program that our troops participate in prior to deployment. While the troops are deployed, we keep close contact with those individuals via email and Skype. Then upon their return, we re-enter them back into the program. This is a three part program. We launched the first PDP and we are presently in the second portion of that program.
Law Enforcement personnel encounter unique stresses in their work day. They struggle with day to day mental challenges and experience life and death issues. Studies show that because police officers face a continued exposure to human crisis and traumatic situations, which go well beyond normal experiences, they are at greater risk for developing stress related illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The constant threat of physical danger, the adjustment to shift work and social isolation add to this risk. Many times, these stressors contribute to a change in the officer’s personality that can lead to depression, anger and cynicism. Often what follows is infidelity, divorce, substance abuse, misuse of sick time, domestic violence and suicide. Horse Rhythm Foundation utilizes different programs which are customized to each individual or group allowing for healing, adaptability and coping mechanisms for these situations.
With the increased number of women serving in the military, it is important that we understand their unique health issues; our female soldiers face a variety of additional stressors while serving in combat. These veterans are also overwhelmed with problems unique to their gender — increased guilt over leaving children behind, sexual harassment and a more difficult time transitioning back to civilian life. On the surface, the problems facing female veterans, especially those homeless or suffering through addiction seem to be identical to the struggles of male veterans in the same situation. While equally capable as their male counterparts, female soldiers have a different experience in the military and thus a different response to those troubles.
This program is designed to help each of these women face the challenges, and undergo the healing that they need upon their return. EAP and EAL have proven to be very productive in this healing process among female veterans.
Given that traumatic exposure is common among firefighters, it is not surprising that high rates of PTSD have been found. Studies have found that an average of 22% of firefighters meet criteria for a current diagnosis of PTSD. HRF’s programs will address this issue among other needs for our firefighters in helping them with developing coping mechanisms.
Cowboy Mounted Shooting:
Per the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, Cowboy Mounted Shooting is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Mounted contestants compete in this fast action, timed event using two .45 caliber single action revolvers each loaded with five rounds of blank ammunition. There are 50+ possible patterns that the rider must maneuver in order to shoot 10 balloons that are specifically placed.
In the therapeutic world, Cowboy Mounted Shooting (CMS) is used for many reasons; the rider must be able to actually ride the horse, teaching our clients patience. Because CMS is fast paced, the rider feels the excitement of increase in speed and horse power, also increasing their riding skill level. Being able to concentrate on a given pattern, shoot the balloons and switch revolvers helps with thought organization and follow-through. These actions are particularly helpful in the cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) where cognitive actions are often weakened. Additionally, many service members and first responders have only used their weapons in negative situations. CMS allows the rider to use their weapons in a constructive manner, in an encouraging environment, with a positive outcome. This has become one of the favorite classes for our groups.