PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes
Southern Reins offers equine-assisted services for active, reserve, and retired military personnel and first responders who have been physically or mentally injured in the line of duty. Our PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes is offered at no cost to participants in honor of their service and sacrifice to our country.
Southern Reins is honored to support the PATH, Intl. Equine Services for Heroes Program. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of life for military men and women, as well as first responders, who have been injured in service to our country. Equine-assisted activities offers physical and emotional healing, with a focus on building confidence, self-awareness, improved communication, trust, and decreased anxiety and stress.
Participants may be referred by a physican or therapist, current or past participant, family member, Department of Veteran's Affairs, Wounded Warrior Project, Alpha Omega Veterans Services, emergency services, or other service organization.
Men and women diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, PTSD, amputation, physical injury or combat trauma often find positive change and tremendous benefit from their involvement with equine therapy. Horses are powerful and forgiving, social and inquisitive, and they are highly attuned to their environment. They provide a unique self-reflective experience that can provide healing in immeasurable ways.
Adaptive horseback riding is offered for 6 weekly sessions that include 3 weeks of unmounted activities and 3 weeks of riding. Our horsemanship program is offered for 6 weekly sessions that include grooming, horse care, horsemanship, and groundwork. Participants are also invited to support the operation of our facility as a volunteer.
Equine Services for Heroes offers adaptive horseback riding and horsemanship programs throughout the year to support those who have given so much defending our freedom. Through donor support, the program is offered at no cost.
for their incredible support of Equine Services for Heroes
Special Thanks to our friends at
Southern Reins Equine Services for Heroes is proud to serve the clients of
According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research 20% of the veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and 19.5% of vets in these two categories have experienced a traumatic brain injury.
Equine Services for Heroes participants must complete a Participant Application Package and physician’s referral. When the application package has been received, an assessment will be scheduled to determine if equine-assisted activities would be beneficial to the participant.
For more information, contact Sara Zurenko, Program Director, at Sara.Zurenko@southernreins.org
In loving memory of our friend Curt Long
"My husband, Ivan "Curt" Long, fell in love with horses when he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. Most soldiers picked up their girlfriends in a car or on motorcycle, but Curt met his girlfriend at a bus stop riding a Quarter Horse named Long John. In his career as a psychologist, he taught clients how to ride and then took them out into the desert of Arizona for therapy sessions. Curt's philosophy was that "You'd have to work really hard to be depressed after riding through the Arizona desert on horseback.” His love of horses has never faded.
In 2014, Curt was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and life changed dramatically. He was also recently diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia at the Memphis VA. This diagnosis explained the rapid cognitive and physical decline. It was sobering, and time felt shorter and more valuable. In the past 4 years, I watched my sweetheart husband change from an independent, humorous, creative, adventurous outdoorsman with a big presence to a much smaller man with tremors, quiet anxiety and a waning zest for life.
Since his 2014 diagnosis he talked about horses. It was his dream to connect and commune with a horse again. Intuitively, he knew it would be healing for him. Thankfully, the recreation department at the VA had begun an outpatient program with Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy. I couldn’t have imagined how beautiful and healing these sessions would be for Curt. His inner light brightened as he built a beautiful, powerful and healing connection to Ozzie under the loving and skillful guidance of Jill Haag, the Executive Director. Curt found a fresh zest for life and talked about "his" horse all the time. It was humbling for him to have to re-learn so much, but you'd never see that through his calm and quiet joy. Parkinson's can make it difficult to express emotions, especially in the moment, yet when you talked with him the first thing he would tell you about is Ozzie. Having horse therapy to look forward to brought Curt deep joy and a sense of pride in himself: something the Parkinson's and dementia has taken big chunks out of.
In every other part of his life, Curt was unsure, confused and anxious . . . but when he was with Ozzie, it's a different story.
He was confident, and had peace and grace again.
He was able to physically do things that I would not have thought possible. The highlight was getting to RIDE Ozzie - something that neither of us thought he would be physically able to do. Thanks to Jill, Sara and several very patient, kind and calm volunteers, Curt got to experience riding again.
Curt and I could not be more impressed by Southern Reins. There's so much love and respect for people and horses at Southern Reins. Curt's life was deeply enriched by this magical place, people and horses. It was a literal dream come true for him. Our deep and most sincere gratitude goes out to everyone at Southern Reins who has chosen to do this kind of healing work as a career, who serves on the Board of Directors, and who choose to volunteer and donate to this life-changing Center of equine therapy." Connie Long, Curt's wife