Posted: Mar 01, 2015 8:10 PM ESTUpdated: Mar 03, 2015 5:24 PM EST
PLAINFIELD, Vt. -Army veterans suffering from PTSD are seeking treatment through an up and coming horse therapy program.
Steven DePalma is an Army Veteran with over 40 years of horsemanship experience, but it wasn't until recently that he discovered a new potential for his passion. After returning from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, he says his horses helped him heal. "The more I spent with the horses, the happier I felt," he said.
DePalma came up with a plan to share the therapeutic experience with others through a riding program he's calling theVeteran Barn Door Project. On Sunday he held his first ever workshop with two veterans in Plainfield. "We went and got the horse out of the pasture, and then we took his blanket off, groomed him, and then we led him around the arena a little bit and then we put the saddle on," said Peter Craig, one of the participants.
DePalma emphasized the connection between horse and rider when in the arena. He believes this unique bond is one important part of the therapy process, helping patients to relax through their work with the horses. "It helps. It really does. Horses really do connect with the human, and as long as the human is willing to connect with the horse, as you saw this morning, it really does work," he said.
Sunday's lesson is one of many that the participants will attend. DePalma has three horses of his own, and he hopes that the program could expand to bring more Veterans together. "My big plan later down the road is to have enough horses where we can have 8 to 10 guys come out, do a trail ride, sit up and have lunch, and everybody get to talk about whatever it is. It doesn't necessarily have to be about the war," DePalma said.
The project is still in the process of fundraising, with the hopes of being accepted as a non-profit.