Veterans from Catholic Charities of Denver’s Samaritan House are offered weekly therapeutic sessions with horses from the Sunny Horse Foundation, a Broomfield non-profit that hosts equine classes designed specifically for those who have served our country. Navy veteran Todd resides at Samaritan House and has been participating in the program since it originated in 2018. One of the horses at the foundation, named ‘Little Bit’, helped encourage him to become more optimistic about life and open his heart to another creature. “I experience a sense of complete peace and calmness when working with the horse. It’s something I look forward to every week.”
Pam and Bob Thode started the foundation seven years ago, when a nearby ranch shut down and they decided to continue the same mission. They have partnered with Samarian House for the last four years and have been able to give numerous veterans the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Pam Thode teaches exercises, including a word of the day reflection. She poses questions for the veterans to help them find their “happy place” as they embrace the horses and place one hand on the horse’s heart. She also encourages them to practice consciousness of one’s breathing as it helps the horse focus on providing therapy to the individual.
The moments veterans share with these horses can help with many physical and mental ailments. Not only does it release endorphins that can have a calming effect, but it can help relieve pain and anxieties.
“’Little Bit’ has a similar condition to me where it can be difficult for him to stand for too long,” says Todd. “I found that he and I both stood with honor. It reminds me of my time in service. That even if I can’t physically walk for too long, I still have my honor to show.”