The board and staff of GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center in Milford, PA, have a wish they are hoping will be fulfilled this holiday season: That members of our local community will join them in focusing attention on a special program, Horses 4 Heroes, between now and the end of the year, and especially on GivingTuesday, December 1, 2020.
Horses 4 Heroes is a national program implemented locally by GAIT for veterans, active-duty military personnel, first responders, law enforcement officers, and their families. Offered free of charge to participants, the program improves the effects of PTSD, stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout through equine-assisted activities and therapies.
Feedback from Horses 4 Heroes participants is overwhelmingly positive. All participants report a noticeable difference in their day-to-day lives as a result of their work at GAIT. This is not surprising, as interactions and relationships with horses have been proven effective for physical and emotional rehabilitation.
Steven Seaman, a local veteran who came to GAIT through Horses 4 Heroes and now works as a Barn Manager for the organization, remembers that taking the first step toward participating in the program was not easy.
At first, Seaman recalls, “I signed up but never showed. I didn’t want to leave my self-isolation. Later in the fall, I received a follow-up phone call offering the same opportunity to come and see what GAIT had to offer.” This time, Seaman remembers, he decided to give GAIT a try.
Once Seaman started participating, he met with some surprises. “I expected to build a bond with a horse through general horsemanship. I didn’t expect practicing mindfulness. Nor did I expect learning how to control your anxiety while successfully leading a 16-hand horse through a narrow labyrinth.”
Reflecting on what the program came to mean to him, Seaman adds, “GAIT has become a safe haven for me and my kids. The horses along with the staff and the volunteers have helped me in more ways than they can imagine.”
Anyone interested in participating in Horses 4 Heroes at GAIT should call 570-409-1140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To those who are interested but hesitant, Seaman offers these words of encouragement, “Come and meet one of our staff members, tour the facility and the grounds. Meet the horses and see if there is a connection with one or more.” GAIT looks forward to hearing from you.
Horses 4 Heroes is Horses is free to participants, but there are costs for GAIT.
To meet those costs, GAIT is joining other local nonprofits and organizations throughout the world with an online fundraiser on GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, December 1, 2020. Please save the date and join generous people worldwide in making that day of giving a success. GivingTuesday is a great way to celebrate the holidays with a spirit of generosity and gratitude.
You can also donate online at www,gaittrc.org (be sure to apply your donation to Horses 4 Heroes) or mail a check to GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center, PO Box 69, Milford, PA 18337 (indicating that you would like the donation to go to the Horses 4 Heroes program). GAIT thanks our heroes and all who support them, and wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.