Horses have always been fascinating to me. Growing up in a small town, there was no shortage of farms and ranches that inevitably had horses on the property. Horses are strong and very intimidating but can also be very loving and gentle. For horses that are put in races on the track, however, life can be rough and can damage horses' bodies as well as their minds.
Workers at a sanctuary in Saratoga Springs called Saratoga War Horse decided to dedicate their lives to helping horses trust humans again. They came up with an ingenious way to break through the distrust in the horses' minds. They introduced the animals to men and women who needed just as much help as they did. War veterans.
Obviously, war veterans paid a heavy price to help defend our country. Their experiences left many physically scared as well as emotionally drained, much like the horses from the track. War veterans can also look intimidating but, with the right people around them, have the capacity to love and trust better than most, again, much like track horses.
Saratoga War Horse workers decided that in order to help track horses trust again, track horses would have to help war veterans trust again. By helping each other, veterans and horses alike gained a new perspective on life. The process was both nerve racking and beautiful at the same time.
One veteran entered the enclosure where one of the horses awaited. The horse was running around the enclosure, working off some energy. The horse stopped at the sight of the new person in his vicinity. The horse and man locked eyes for a moment, then the horse took off running again. Under the direction of the trainers, the man stayed calm and worked his way to the center of the enclosure. Then, the man turned his back on the horse and waited.
The horse, seeing the man's back, stopped running and walked slowly towards the man and put his head, gently, on the veteran's shoulder. The exercise was mirrored by many other veterans and horses. This exercise showed that the man trusted the horse enough to turn his back and the horse, seeing that the veteran trusted him, returned that trust 10x over.
Many veterans have benefited from the work done at Saratoga War Horse. Many have said that they finally found someone who understood them. The horses used at the sanctuary also benefitted by meeting people who were only interested in loving them, not hitting them with whips to make them run faster. It is amazing to see kindred spirits help each other on the road to trust and happiness. Watch the video below and see for yourself just how beautiful the relationship between the veterans and horses truly is.
If you loved this story, be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook!