Rescued Horses Help Veterans With PTSD

PEGRAM, Tenn. - A local horse therapy program has been using horses recovering from emotional trauma to help veterans who suffer from PTSD.

Returning from war, sometimes it's hard to get back in the saddle.

"I heard someone say that a horse is a 1,500 pound lie detector," Joe Cottingham said. "There's no BS'ing a horse, ya' know, and these veterans don't want any of that either. Some of these guys don't want to open too much, but they can get more confident with a horse." 

Cottingham founded Heroes & Horses Healing. He served in Vietnam.

"There was no such thing as PTSD when we got back," Cottingham said. "It's changed a whole lot since then."

After realizing he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he started the non-profit with his retirement money.

"It's not about recreational riding, this is about therapy," Cottingham said.

Veterans who participate in the non-profit's program learn how to handle their PTSD by training horses like Moose.

"You're actually teaching him about you!" Dede Beasley said.

Beasley, an equine therapy trainer, has served as the clinical director. She worked with veteran Tim Hook on Sunday.

"Make it mean something that y'all are getting it right!" Beasley said.

Tim Hook said Moose has helped him reconnect with life outside of war.

"This is a great way to learn how to get that connection back is Moose and all the other horses will help you understand what that is again because I couldn't name how I felt before," Hook said.

Hook said these horses are special because of the recovery that they've made, too. Moose has suffered from abandonment issues.

"I hadn't been deployed since 2007, it had been almost 10 years, and I still hadn't connected," Hook said. "Moose helped me connect again with who I am, and I think all veterans, if they have ability to take this opportunity, it's a wonderful thing."

Right now the non-profit has been working to gain more funding, volunteers, and participants.

For more information on the non-profit, click here.

They have also been accepting new veterans into the program. You can call 615-522-2836 for assistance.

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