Military veterans get free horse riding lessons from Whispering Manes to help with depression and stress

WSVN — Our military servicemen and women face challenges in battle most of us can’t imagine. But for some of them, life can also be a battle once they come home. In tonight’s special report, 7’s Jeff Lennox shows us how one group is enlisting the help of horses to get veterans back in the saddle.    

James Mosely/Marine Corps Veteran: "USMC, Marine Corps."
  
Miguel Arbesu: "The Air Force for three years."

James Mosely and Miguel Arbesu are proud to have served our country, but they say returning to civilian life was one of their toughest assignments.

Miguel Arbesu: "I had a nervous breakdown. That was the first issue I had with my anxiety and depression, which is what brought me to the VA."

Many returning vets suffer from anxiety, depression, sadness and anger. Many try to fight it out on their own, shutting out the rest of the world. 

Miguel Arbesu: "Stay in my house and do nothing."

Traditional treatment has always centered around counseling and support groups, but some service members are finding the best course of treatment in a corral.

James Mosely: "I never assumed that a horse could make you feel more relaxed and have such a focus on your own personality."

Whispering Manes Horse Riding Center in Southwest Miami-Dade lets vets ride for free.

Erin Bauer: "We don’t ask questions. This is not therapy. This is not a time to talk about your problems."     

For Miguel, riding can be a relief.

Miguel Arbesu: "Sometimes people are kind of tough, and I don’t think the horses are as intimidating as the folks are."

Organizers said the combination of the gentle horses and peaceful atmosphere offers vets a safe haven.

Erin Bauer: "It’s quiet. There’s no loud noises. There’s no chaos here, which I think is really important for a lot of the veterans."

And it’s worked for Miguel.

Erin Bauer: "He came, he didn’t really want to participate as a rider. He was very quiet."

Three years later, Miguel is one of the first volunteers they call when they need help.

Miguel Arbesu: "I haven’t been to the hospital in five years."

It allows these service members to realize their value here at home.

Miguel Arbesu: "It helps give you confidence when you’re working on some skill. Getting me organized, making me feel more of a person."

And getting back in the saddle of life.

Erin Bauer: "Another path to help people heal and to help them feel better about themselves."

James Mosely: "Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Nice horse! This is a blessing."

Whispering Manes also hosts classes for children and other adults with special needs.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center
https://www.whisperingmanes.org

"Path" Professional Association Of Therapeutic Horsemanship International 
http://www.pathintl.org