Equine Therapy Workshops Help Injured Veterans Find Connection and Healing Through Horses

Meghan Overdeep

Husband and wife Jessenia and Truitt Smith were among a handful of veterans who experienced the healing effects of caring for horses in an equine therapy workshop hosted by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in Virginia this week.

"It was beneficial for both of us," Jessenia, a Navy veteran like her husband, said in a news release. "With this type of equine therapy, you groom and listen to the horse and also work together as a team."

Activities like equine therapy and socializing with other veterans can help injured warriors cope with stress and emotional concerns. The equine therapy workshops are designed to help veterans use what they learned caring for the horses to calm nerves, build shared trust, and develop rewarding interactions in their daily lives. Participants groom, feed, halter, lead, and ride the horses foundational skills that foster healthy, trusting partnerships with the animals.

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Jessenia first heard about WWP when she was recovering from serious injuries sustained while deployed in South America.

"Attending Wounded Warrior Project events made my journey relevant," Jessenia said. "Interacting with other veterans helped me see myself and what I'd been suppressing. Sometimes, just being in the room with other people who get it is all it takes. You're being validated for what you feel. That's what Wounded Warrior Project gives to me—it's that validation that no one else can give you."