A Purpose: Role of equine therapy in veteran PTSD explored


Equine therapy for combat and service veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder is in the spotlight in a new three-part digital docu-series exploring the anecdotal evidence and quest for scientific proof supporting the role that horses play in addressing PTSD.

The first two videos from “Purpose” are available online. Produced by America’s Best Racing (ABR), the series examines the deep therapeutic connection between horse and human, with a particular focus on three distinct non-profit programs dedicated to serving veterans through connections with horses, including retired Thoroughbreds. Part one focuses on SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary, part two features the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Part 2:

PTSD is a debilitating condition that can affect up to 30 percent of returning veterans. The numbers are equally startling and disturbing, as 20 veterans a day commit suicide and up to half of the veterans suffering from PTSD never receive treatment. While pharmacological and traditional therapies have long existed for treatment of PTSD, alternative approaches such as equine-assisted therapy are on the rise, and equine-assisted therapy could soon be scientifically proven to be the best therapy available.

Part one of the series focuses on the program at SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary located in Montgomery, New York, which offers an equine-assisted psychotherapy program for veterans and their families. Through interaction with horses, including retired Thoroughbred racehorses, veterans learn healthy coping skills, effective communication, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. These skills allow the healing to begin.

Part 1:

Part two of the series focuses on the work of the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Borne of his commitment to public service and his love of racehorses and their post-racing care, the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center is the brainchild of Ambassador Earle Mack. A businessman, philanthropist, diplomat, and veteran of the US Army, Ambassador Mack envisions the Man O’ War Project as a necessary endeavor to better provide for the mental healthcare of veterans suffering from PTSD. Members of the Psychiatry Department at Columbia University Irving Medical Center are determined to lead the quest in creating the definitive medical study designed to recognize equine-assisted therapy as the most effective treatment for PTSD through this first of its kind university-based study.

“Given the statistics, we have to do more to help our brave veterans – they need more treatment options,” said Ambassador Earle Mack.

“I believe equine therapy can play a major role. The Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center is honored to be a part of this docuseries that examines how horses can help veterans with PTSD.”

Stephen B. Panus, president of TJC Media Ventures, said he was hopeful that the series would raise awareness of the role that equine-assisted therapy in helpingveterans re-acclimate from combat back into civilian life, “as well as for the powerful role and purpose that retired Thoroughbreds can play in this alternative therapeutic treatment”.



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