Equine therapy offering support to veterans at New Jersey stable

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, New Jersey (WABC) -- It is a two-hour therapy session where few words are spoken and the most effective form of communication is from a horse.

"They're basically a human mirror," Serenity Stables founder Rene Stone said. "So whatever you're feeling, they're going to respond to."

The 15-acre oasis is where Stone has provided equine therapy to vets through her non-profit From Combat to Calm for the last three years.

"My father was a veteran," she said. "I also suffered from PTS, and it was my horse that saved my life. So I knew there was a connection."

Every Wednesday, the unique connection is experienced by vets from Samaritan Daytop Village who take the two-hour ride to Atlantic Highlands all the way from Richmond Hill, Queens.

"I haven't had a panic attack since coming here," veteran Robert said. "Starting to come here, I haven't had a panic attack. My depression has lessened by leaps and bounds."

There was one vet who always feared being ambushed, who wouldn't go into open spaces and even slept under his bed. But after only one session with the horses, he slept in his bed for the first time in 10 years.

"It's instantaneous," United War Veterans Council Executive Director Mark Otto said. "It's amazing. You see veterans engaging with the horses and developing these relationships."

It can offer significant progress when traditional approaches to treatment have failed.

"I love it," Robert said. "It means a lot to me."

Channel 7 is your home for the New York City Veterans Day Parade. You can watch it live beginning at noon on Monday, November 11, on WABC-TV.


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