veteran1Marion Therapeutic Riding Association has partnered with the Ocala Vet Center to provide equine facilitated psychotherapy.  This program – FREEDOM REINS, has rapidly gained momentum again following COVID-19, and it assists United States Veterans living with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, and more utilizing specially trained horses, a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and a psychotherapist from the Ocala Vet Center.

As with each of our programs, Freedom Reins assists Veterans with developing and improving strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, communication, self-reflection, and conflict resolution.  The Freedom Reins program addresses mental health in addition to the traditional benefits of therapeutic horseback riding by incorporating focus areas from their psychotherapy sessions by utilizing the horses the Veterans are working with each week.  For example, if a veteran might be experiencing triggers of hypervigilance, we might create a scenario which might cause the horses to experience a hypervigilant state of mind.  This enables the Veterans to observe and experience their horses’ reactions in a safe environment with trained staff and assist their horse in processing and working through it.  Following the equine portion, the veterans then process how it applies to things they have experienced during a psychotherapy group session facilitated by the Ocala Vet Center’s Psychotherapist.  The curriculum for Mental Health addressed in the Freedom Reins Program include:

  1. Intro Equine Assisted/Facilitated Psychotherapy
  2. Trust & Connectivity
  3. Building Relationships
  4. Avoidance
  5. Hypervigilance
  6. Hyperarousal
  7. Learning Safety
  8. Intrusive Memories
  9. Negative Thoughts and Mood
  10. Finding Meaning

veteran2The proven benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding include fostering patience and empathy, boosting trust and confidence, increasing control over one’s own emotions of frustration and anger, promoting strength, developing balance and improving coordination.

MTRA does not charge any Veterans for participation in this program.  Funding is achieved by seeking grants and through the generosity of our community and donations.  If you would like to donate to this program or sponsor a Veteran, please click HERE.

For more information regarding Corporate and Individual Sponsorships, please contact MTRA at 352-732-7300, or via eMail.

For Program information, please contact Amy Sheffield, Program Director, at 352-732-7300, or via eMail.