“First you go with the horse. Then the horse goes with you. Then you go together.” - Tom Dorrance“
Introducing “Cowboy Strong”, our program designed specifically for veterans, which utilizes an innovative approach called Therapeutic Horsemanship. Unlike traditional horse-related programs for veterans that use Equine Assisted Therapy, “Cowboy Strong” offers a unique approach that involves tailored exercises, specific techniques, and a distinct focus on the therapeutic process. Through this program, we aim to empower veterans to develop resilience, confidence, and a renewed sense of purpose by building a strong bond with horses and learning new skills in a supportive environment.
The “therapeutic process” in our Cowboy Strong program is centered around the development of skills through working with horses in a non-threatening environment. By learning and practicing these skills in the program, veterans can more easily apply them to their day-to-day lives outside of the program. Our approach focuses on creating a safe and supportive environment where veterans can build a strong bond with the horses, gain confidence in their abilities, and develop resilience. The skills learned through Cowboy Strong are transferable to real-world situations and can help veterans overcome challenges and achieve their goals in their personal and professional lives.
Research on human-horse relationships has revealed a remarkable level of connection, characterized by a type of collaborative neural communication that occurs in real-time between the horse and human. This form of interaction enables both the horse and human to work together to achieve their immediate goals, whether it is in athletic performance or everyday life. The conversations that take place in this context allow each species to extend its mind beyond its physical limits and merge with the mind of the other. The physical interaction between the two becomes a type of neural dance, where each partner is constantly responding to the other’s movements and feedback. This level of connection creates a powerful therapeutic tool that can be harnessed to promote healing and personal growth for both humans and horses.
Our program focuses on pairing a horse with a veteran with the sole purpose of teaching proper horsemanship skills from the ground up. Through this process, veterans learn to become more in tune with their minds, understanding that using force is not an effective way to achieve a positive outcome. Rather, cooperation and active listening are crucial for success both with the horse and in life. By acquiring these skills in a non-threatening environment, veterans are better able to apply them in their day-to-day lives. This approach allows for a powerful and transformative experience that promotes healing and growth, both for the veteran and the horse.
Our Therapeutic Horsemanship approach is based on the extensive experience of J.R. Hull, who has been working with veterans and horses for over 5 years. Inspired by the natural horsemanship movement developed by renowned horsemen William “Bill” Dorrance and Tom Dorrance, our approach prioritizes building a connection with horses based on mutual respect and understanding. Through our program, veterans have the opportunity to develop horsemanship skills in a safe and supportive environment, gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and cultivating valuable life skills that can be applied beyond the program.
If you’re looking for a transformative experience that can help you develop valuable life skills, look no further than Sanctuary Stables’ Therapeutic Horsemanship workshops. Our program draws on years of experience working with horses and veterans, and we are excited to offer these workshops to veterans at no cost in Anza Valley.