Horses – A Lifesaving Treatment for First Responders?


Horses – A Lifesaving Treatment for First Responders?

When someone is stressed or depressed, it’s easy to prescribe them drugs. But sometimes it can be more of a problem than a solution.

It’s always encouraging stumbling upon organizations looking for alternative ways of helping – especially when it comes to supporting first responders.

To that end…I want to introduce you to a 501c3 I found called Bridal Pathways. The founder reached out to me to tell me about the organization and I thought you all might find it to be as inspiring as I did.

Bridle Pathways was founded to help make equine-assisted therapy programs more accessible and to be tried as a first or complimentary treatment rather than as a last effort. Most importantly, it is a non-pharmaceutical option that may be beneficial as a regular, preventative therapy to help reduce stress and fatigue in our first responders.

Leah Johnson is the founder of the organization and points to the long-term savings as well as the obvious benefits of helping change and save lives.

“If this is tried first, and proves successful in preventing regression or the use of pharmaceutical drugs, think of all the time and money saved on all areas of an individual’s medical care and the reduced stress on their general health,” she said. “Not to mention the ability to remain employed where taking certain drug treatments means they are not able to remain employed.”

This is true for most EMT and Firefighter personnel. Police departments have their own rules but many also do not allow an officer to be on-duty while taking certain medications.

The biggest hurdle is funding for these programs and individuals who would benefit. Insurance does not cover it, as it is an individually-subjective therapy. Often centers rely on their own fundraisers and donations to exist. They usually have a fee that the patient pays out of pocket for a set number of sessions.

PATH International is a great resource but their help only extends to training therapists and getting the information out there about the therapy. The financial burden is still there. Many individuals require special equipment for these therapies, special training for therapists, and the horses involved need to be very well trained. None of these come cheap at all. The individuals receiving therapy treatments often need to pay something out of pocket, which may or may not be feasible for them – especially low-income families.

This is where Bridal Pathways steps in and bridges that gap. Their core focus group is first responders and 911 operators.

“What we want to do is get these people another option, which is non-pharmaceutical and aids in both physical and mental challenges,” said Leah. “If you have ever worked with a horse, the first thing you learn is that they will reflect in you, what you need to work on in yourself. They present a problem-solving challenge that more often does not involve spoken words. No pen and paper or a calculator can be used to solve what the horse is reflecting in you.”

Leah can speak to this personally. She’s seen it with her own son who has Asperger’s. He is fortunate enough to have his own horse but most kids/adults out there do not.

“Riding therapy also presents a unique physical therapy that machines really cannot truly duplicate. You have a warm, living being beneath you, outweighing you by hundreds of pounds, feels every movement you make, is a flight-animal, yet it allows you to sit on its back and move with it as it moves. The physical benefits are such that many therapy patients actually gain muscle and help wake up muscles that have atrophied due to whatever physical disability they have. Gaining muscle helps in so many ways that patients with chronic pain often find relief after several sessions that painkillers and other narcotic drugs only seem to just mask.”

The idea that we can save lives through nature – and not drugs – is an honorable one and these guys have some incredible results. It’s definitely worth checking out this non-profit organization. They’re literally changing lives every single day.

And our first responders can use all the support we can give them in this day and age.

I hope you’ll help share their story.

Kyle S. Reyes is co-host of The Whiskey Patriots and the Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing. Reyes is also an acclaimed keynote speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media. You can follow him on Facebook.

(Photo courtesy Juan Beltran)

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