Center’s program helps veterans heal while interacting with horses

LANCASTER, Ky. (WYMT) – Veterans are finding a new sense of peace by spending time with horses.

One day each month, veterans at the VA Med Center are taken to the Hooves of Hope Equine Center in Garrard County to participate in a unique treatment program that’s had a big impact on those who served our country.

Nebojsa Simic served his country in Afghanistan in 2005, seeing things he would rather not talk about. But he says the simple act of interacting with a horse gives him some relief.

“It gives me peace, lets me forget about the horrific stuff I saw.”

Equine experts at Hooves of Hope say horses mirror our emotions and there is a peace felt in the presence of a horse.

“The purpose of this program is provide benefits such as decreased anxiety, increased communication,” says Beth Feeback, of the Lexington VA Medical Center.

Cleaning hooves, brushing the animals, and leading them around the farm is all part of the free therapy offered to all veterans.

“Man, this is one of my favorite therapies we do because the horse require your full attention,” says Simic.

Many veterans develop close bonds with the horses and are amazed at such a powerful animal can also be so gentle.

“We’ve seen a lot of veterans who maybe were scared of horses or had bad experiences with horses who come out and are able to overcome those incidents,” says Feeback.

Operation Hope recognizes the horse’s ability to help with a person’s emotions.

The Hoover for Hope Equestrian Center also has programs for numerous other conditions and disorders.