Friday, October 29, 2010

MILITARY: Horses help heal war's trauma - Full Article

By Tom Pfingsten - For the North County Times North County Times - Californian | Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010

RANCHO SANTA FE ---- Behind the gates of an exclusive neighborhood a few miles from the Del Mar racetrack, a group of volunteers who call themselves "Pegasus Rising" is taking a novel approach to post-traumatic stress disorder: Pairing sufferers with horses for an hour a week.

President and CEO Gary Adler said this week that because horses are deeply sensitive to human emotion, they make perfect partners for combat veterans, whose psychological wounds run deep.

"For post-traumatic stress disorder, horses are uniquely situated because they're prey animals ---- their very survival depends on being sensitive to smell, sound and movement," Adler said. "Those are all triggers for people with PTSD. They don't want to deal with human interaction because they've lost trust, constantly dealing with people who want to kill them."

Vietnam veteran Willie Baumann said his post-traumatic stress disorder surfaced in the mid-1970s after two tours with the Navy but was not diagnosed until 2008. Shortly thereafter, he was one of the first veterans to receive help from Pegasus Rising.

"The animals ... gave me an inner peace, and I'm hardly even able to find the words to tell you how relaxing and calming it was," he said...

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