"Good boy, good boy,” said Manuel Moran Gomez as he brushed a brown and white horse.
This is the first time Gomez and the horse have met, but they’re becoming quick friends.
"It's like being around somebody that's not going to judge you," said Gomez.
At Healing with Horses Ranch in Manor, Gomez said he can find a bit of peace.
"It has helped me like maybe relax, and calm down, you know I'm not thinking about what's out there... just live in the moment,” said Gomez.
Peace isn’t something that comes easily to Gomez.
"My mind's always going and going, so you know I had to slow it down in order to live the moment cause if not, I'm going to skip out on all the good stuff,” said Gomez.
He served in the Marines for six years: four deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
He said this time with the horses is vital.
"You always wonder what ifs or buts, what happened in combat? And I just want to be happy you know. That's one of the main reasons I like coming here," said Gomez.
It's a similar story for Danielle Wright.
"I come out here to get present,” said Wright. "I'm not much of a talker."
She served in the Army.
"Seven years, nine months, and 22 days,” said Wright.
Here she's able to face some of the things she's still working to understand.
"Things I don't like to think about, or necessarily admit, and they make you deal with it... I think I'm better for it,” said Wright.
She visits the ranch a few times a week to volunteer and ride.
"I've learned that stress is real, I've learned that it will find a way to manifest if you don't allow it to come out,” said Wright. "Deal with it, because let me tell you, it's not going to go away. I've been running for a very long time, and I'm not fast enough."
And she said these horses help work that out.
"It's the very subtle, simple movements they do to reel you back in,” said Wright. "I am not in the same place or even the same person when I started out here last year."
"They're going to teach you how to communicate with your family,” said Patty D'Andrea to a group of veterans Monday.
D’Andrea is the program director at the ranch and teamed up with the Wounded Warriors project to introduce veterans to the therapy.
"It's been my goal to always have a veterans program,” said D’Andrea. "I want them to have a place where they feel safe."
For D'Andrea it's personal. Her dad served in the Air Force for 31 years.
"I realized how much he kept inside him, and I don't want anybody else to have to go through what he went through,” said D’Andrea.
As for Gomez, out of all the horses on the ranch Monday, he chose to walk with the one donkey.
It was almost a symbol of how this program helps make everyone feel welcome.
"Being here brings joy to my life,” said Gomez.
Veterans can ride for free.
If you want to sign up, contact the ranch here.
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