$107,000 Grant for US war vet’s equine therapy program

Horses Helping Heroes (H3), an equestrian program helping US war veterans, has been awarded a grant of $107,000 that will allow it to expand its equine-assisted therapy activities.

H3 is an initiative of Iowa-based Jester Park Equestrian Center (JPEC) has been awarded the Disabled Veterans and Disabled Members of the Armed Forces Grant as part of the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs Adaptive Sports Program.

To date, the program has helped more than 300 Veterans from the VA Domiciliary collaborate with horses to identify relationships, practice communication, manage challenges and recognize peace. This grant will help the Horses Helping Heroes program expand to meet the needs of the many veterans who are outpatients in the region and is designed to address trauma and other mental health needs, including substance abuse, depression and improving family relationships.

The H3 program’s mission is to build a veteran’s confidence through a relationship with the horse by creating opportunities to develop skills that can be used in their daily life.

VA Recreation Therapist Megan Trimble said the grant gave that sums up the benefits of the therapy: “There are things that the horse did for me that a human couldn’t have done.” (Buck Brannaman).

“I cannot contain my excitement to be able to expand the JPEC partnership and the H3 program to outpatient Veterans and continue assisting them through an array of mental health challenges,” Trimble said.

Equestrian Center Manager Claudia Starr said the team was grateful to those who helped secure the grant. “There is nothing more gratifying than knowing the peace that our servicemen and women find through interacting with horses. Our equine therapists are helping veterans find positive ways to navigate the many challenges they face.”

Jester Park Equestrian Center’s mission is to be a community resource fostering education, outdoor recreation, and wellness with horses. The Center is located on the southwest side of Saylorville Lake and is owned and managed by Polk County Conservation.