The ability of horses to lift spirits and help the healing process is well known. Now, combat veterans at Boulder Crest Retreat in Bluemont are finding that horses can help them achieve peace and find a new way out of the morass of war.
“’Horse Inspired Growth and Healing’ is an important part of every program we run in support of combat veterans and their families,” retreat founder and chairman Ken Falke stated recently. Just a few moments with the horse can bring a notable difference to the veterans who visit the retreat as part of their recovery. The Boulder Crest team notes a common finding—that horses have an internal recognition of what the injured person needs.
In the January issue of the journal Social Work, researchers reported that nearly half of all combat veterans suffer from serious psychological disorders and reintegration issues. They reported that equine-related mental health programs have shown promise in treating veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In line with those findings, at the 37-acre Boulder Crest Retreat, combat veterans engage in an equine therapy program. The program is facilitated by Suzi Landolphi, who has a master’s degree in clinical and community psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Landolphi created two programs that encourage veterans and their families to better connect, to let go of traumatic experiences, to find a calm and begin to live once more in the present.
Landolphi said horses instinctively respond to humans who are shy about expressing themselves, and encourage them to open up and be more open. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat programs, including the horse therapy program, go to bouldercrestretreat.org.