Horses help vets in Georgetown return to civilian life

Horses help vets in Georgetown return to civilian life

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- For many veterans, making the transition from active duty to civilian life can be a struggle. A Central Texas program is using a four-legged friend to help these vets find their way home.

It's not pooches that are helping veterans, rather a 1,200 pound brown-eyed horse named Scooter that is helping vets like Tate Sellers.

"Coming back you don't, things don't seem quite right," Sellers said. "Depression is kind of like being a turtle stuck in your shell, you can't find your way out."

He said grooming and riding Scooter helps him find a calm place inside himself.

"He can feel your vibe, and you can feel his vibe so it's a calming sensation for I guess both of us," Sellers said.

Scooter and Sellers are in the ROCK Healing through Horses program. ROCK started in 1998 to help children, and the therapeutic riding program to help veterans launched in 2005.

"We've seen some amazing miracles and healing occur," said ROCK founder Nancy Krenek. "When the horse trusts them they learn to lead the horse and then they learn to lead their life again."

Veterans with PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injuries and other issues spend months connecting with the horses and with each other.

"I'm learning patience," Sellers said, "she's a little stubborn."

Former Army paratrooper Sean Stover joined the program three months ago. He believes working with a horse named Belle is making a difference.

"I'm learning patience, she's a little stubborn," Stover said. "I suffer from high anxiety and PTSD, I know for a fact this program already has saved lives."

Currently there are about 40 veterans in the ROCK program and organizers said they're always looking for more vets to help.

Army vet Mary Ballengee recently started a riding program for female veterans.

"There's so many women in the military with experiences similar to mine or worse," she said. "The goal is to integrate back out into society, but this is the first step, the horse."

It's a way for these vets to reconnect with the world and ride back into civilian life.

"I know I come here and I have an hour of peace and tranquility," Sellers said.

Go here to learn more about ROCK Ride.


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