This program found me in a lot of ways. First, I was found at work, a customer was looking for a Marine veteran that could ride or would like to ride a horse with a new program for veterans. I was introduced to a energetic Marine Vietnam Veteran. We talked about where we started and the places we went. We were so excited that we meet, that we forgot to share our information with each other, and about talk about the program. A couple weeks went by, until a friend reached out that people are talking about me at a horse farm. I told her about a veteran I meet and we talked a little about the program. She gave me the address and times.
I showed up to the barn, walking into a room with a couple of people hanging out. They talked about Operation Wild Horse and the mounted colored guard. Then the BEST part, we will be riding American Mustangs! After being introduced to the herd, we had a chance to show what we know on the Mustangs. They were impressed on what we all knew. They were looking for riders that were able to commit to a 3-4 times a week of practice, for a parade that was coming up. I was up for the challenge and they needed help.
Well multiple parades, meet and greets, and horse fairs. I’m still with the program and letting all the veterans I meet and know about Operation Wild Horse.
It’s about the challenge, meeting other veterans, horsemanship, unit feeling, and here I thought I was helping them out.
The truth is, they were helping Me out.
OWH gives me a reason to get up in the morning!
I have battled PTSD and depression for 15 years since leaving the military. I underwent NUMEROUS conventional therapy treatments, but I always still had the same "I will force myself to do 'X' chore/event/appointment today" feeling. It has been a long time since I was really excited to go anywhere...till now. I learned of Operation Wildhorse at a local Veteran's Day breakfast, and as I have never worked with or been with horses, I was a bit hesitant - and to be honest, I was very scared of a 1200 lb animal because, well, it's 1200 lbs! But, listening to the veterans at the event, I thought this may be a successful, non-conventional way to address my PTSD/depression.
The veterans I have met at OWH are SO WELCOMING - an experience that I never had in the military on the ship that I was stationed. I was greeted and guided along throughout the session, and it was truly a special experience! I attend the group session each week, and the founder graciously agreed to meet with me in an additional weekly session to work on a program designed specifically for my needs. I remain in awe of these amazing horses each time I work with them - the horses intuitively respond in a way that reflects what I am feeling or need - and then teach me patience and creativity in how I can best interact with them. :)
The environment is COMPLETELY SAFE - safe from both a people-interaction as well as a horse-interaction viewpoint. Never have I been to an event and not felt extreme anxiety, quiet fear/hesitation, or the idea that I needed to "force myself" to do something. The founders ensure safety from an environment standpoint.
IF you are a veteran who is struggling or know of a veteran who has tried the traditional group/private counseling sessions or medication route to no success, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND trying this approach. I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND this program to ALL veterans if only just to know there is a place of camaraderie and friendship that does exist! Meet those who are similar in your military service (from all generations), meet the founders of the program who TRULY care about you (and have been very patient with me in my training!), and meet the horses that can turn your life around for the better! The program has been generously sponsored, so all assistance to veterans is covered (something that means the world to me as I would not otherwise have the financial means to attend - THANK YOU SPONSORS). THANK YOU OPERATION WILDHORSE for allowing me to experience this program, meet phenomenal veterans and all of you, and start on a journey to enjoy life again!!!
After watching Veterans R&R from its inception in 2013, I wanted to do something to give back to Veterans and Active Duty Military and their families. I approached the founder about starting a program working with Veterans and Mustangs and in 2017 we started Operation Wild Horse. Over the past three years we have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of Veterans and Military Families and see the impact the Mustangs and the community we have created makes in their lives. We stay true to our motto; Horses helping VETERANS helping horses as 1/2 of the Mustangs in the program were from horse rescues. To see the relationship that the participants in the program build with the Mustangs is truly life changing for the participants and the horses.
Veteran's R&R is a fantastic organization and really follows its mission statement. So many veterans and their families benefit from participating in various events and programs. I am so glad to be part of this group and I cannot say enough good things about it; if you have an opportunity to attend events and outings, I highly recommend it!
Wished I could give >5 stars.
OWH is my refuge when life gives me a kick in the behind!! We have a community there that I feel extremely safe no matter my state of mind. We meet every Saturday morning and most always starts off with A LOT of laughing.
From the first day I visited I was welcomed. The horses make a huge difference in helping me get out of the negative place that I talk myself into.
I guess the best way to sum up OWH is that it has been a huge blessing to all that walk through the door!!
I became initially involved with Veterans R&R through Operation Wild Horse in early 2019 and over the first six months discovered how much of an impact the organization was having with creating a safe haven for veterans and their families. The icing on the cake was their tremendous impact they were having on Wild Mustangs that were faced with enormous challenges for survival. The fact that they can pair up the mustangs with Veterans and create a circle of life environment sold me on becoming actively involved by marketing these organizations and becoming part of the solution. Being a Vietnam era Navy veteran allows me to continue the camaraderie of all branches of the military while fulfilling a personal commitment to helping veterans and their families.
OWH has been a positive addition to my life. I have made connections to many people, animals, and myself through Operation Wild Horse. I learn something every time I go to the barn. Patti and the mustangs are great teachers. It is also a fun and educational activity to do with my children. I have been many places with OWH and I am excited to see where we go in the future.
I have been honored and privileged to volunteer with Veterans R&R/ Operation Wild Horse for the past several years.
This organization provides Veterans, Active-Duty Military, and their families/significant others the opportunity to build a relationship with wild mustangs. I have seen changes in those attending the program, and have been told "I have become a better husband/ wife/ brother/ daughter/ son/ friend/member of the community because of this organization and the community it has created." The multitude of trainings offered is effective in enhancing reintegration of military personnel into civilian life, and provides a supportive environment to learn and heal.
I feel this organization is solid, effective, and uses it resources and funding well. The mustangs are well taken care of, and the friendships made with the members of this community, the people running this organization, including the trainers and staff are solid, and well valued.
Volunteering at OWH has not only brought me closer with the veterans, and taught me everything I know about horses, but it also made me a part of their family. Even though I haven’t started my journey in the military yet, I know that when I get out, I’ll always have a home with you guys.
Proud to have served on the first board of directors several years ago. This organization continues to move with great direction and vision in helping our veterans. Donation/funding are used wisely toward programs. Not frivolously waisted. Keep up the great work.
Veterans R&R allows the Veterans it serves to build and make our programs to what they are today! Thank you for allowing us to serve you the ones willing to give your lives for us!!!!!