Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we’re recognizing Warhorses for Heroes, an equine program for service men and women.
Sara Beth Raab, Director of Events and Communications for Warhorses for Heroes, kindly answered our questions about the program, whose mission is as follows:
Our mission is to provide hands-on support for active and retired service men and women who have sustained mental and physical injuries in the line of duty. We do this through programs in horseback riding, ground lessons, equine care and horse management training. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
HN: How did you get involved with Warhorses for Heroes?
SBR: I have ridden with one of the co-founders, Trey Lawson, at his barn for several years, and when he mentioned he wanted to start a non-profit specializing in equine therapy, I was intrigued!
I have always been interested and impressed with how horses are successfully used in therapy, not just for children, but for adults too. Co-founders Trey and Pearson Allen started the board and I was asked to join as director of events and communications. We had a few meetings and everything took off very quickly!
Trey and Pearson founded Warhorses for Heroes as a nonprofit organization in the summer of 2015 and by Christmas of the same year were able to partner with the local Veteran’s Affairs office and begin the program.
HN: Please describe your facility and where you are located.
SBR: We are located in Olive Branch, Mississippi at Oak View Stables, Trey Lawson’s family farm. Having our Warhorse’s operations exist within a working farm allowed us to start assisting veterans immediately. The facilities include a 40 stall barn with a small indoor ring, all-weather jump arena, dressage ring and cross-country course. With over 60 acres of pasture and five ponds, it’s that wide open space you LOVE to visit to get away from the city. Oak View Stables provides the perfect setting for therapy and healing.
HN: Are you fully staffed or do you include volunteers?
SBR: All of our staff is currently all volunteer. Our instructors are Billy Anderson, Sue Enright and of course Trey Lawson. On our board we have Colonel Robert Haste, retired, Pearson Allen, Trey Lawson and myself. Then, of course, we have our collection of volunteers for various projects too numerous to name!
HN: What kind of horses are you using in the Warhorses program, and how do you acquire them?
SBR: Oak View’s horses have spent their lives in the show ring, in the hunt field, pulling carriages and wandering trails. As you can imagine, their lifelong exposure to riders of all ages and their varied jobs throughout their lives has shaped them into ideal therapy horses. We have featured each of our horses on our website.
HN: How are you funded?
SBR: We are funded by private donations. Currently, our psychologists stay and observe our sessions and offer their professional input and oversight. Our immediate goal is to raise the funds to certify all of our trainers giving us more flexibility to accept more clients. We are also planning to expand our facilities with handicap accessible features. If anyone wants to help please visit our site, linked below. Donations and volunteers are welcome.
HN: What is your favorite part of working with Warhorses for Heroes?
SBR: The absolute best thing for me is watching this idea grow almost overnight and beginning to make a difference in so many lives so quickly. The leadership on the board is simply phenomenal, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of it all.
We all know that our horses help us ease our pains, heal our hurts and sooth our souls. At Warhorses, we proudly share those gifts with our veterans who have given so much to all of us with their service. Please consider a donation of your time or money to help us help others … and volunteers are always a blessing.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.