While many veterans receive medications to fights PTSD symptoms, the Sundance for Our Soldiers program is offering a drug-free solution, it’s called Equine Assisted Therapy.
Equine Assisted Therapy is a range of treatments that involve activities with horses. Megan Sundeen, founder of Sundance for Our Soldiers says the horse is the key component to the therapy.
“What takes place is these horses being in their natural state free to move about within their environment gives them the ability read and mirror someone’s thoughts, their body language and other things,” says Sundeen.
And Megan says veterans and horse have plenty in common.
“It has the same defense mechanism with either it freezes, it fights, or it flights. And that’s the same thing soldiers do when they’re in battle,” says Sundeen. “They have to know those three things. So it parallels each other and they both have a hyper vigilance to their environment.”
Part of the therapy involves obstacle course between the veterans and the horses.
“The things that we set up help to create a potential metaphor- something that they can compare to in their own lives and that’s where the healing starts to begin,” explains Sundeen.
And for veteran Dorothy Meindok, one session gave her a glimpse into her own battles.
“The one that I identified as myself just stood there. Just stood their frozen and looked petrified and the other horse seemed to come up and protect her,” says Dorothy. “I think I got some really good people in my life now that are trying to cokes me to the next step and I’m just so comfortable doing what I know. It’s a hard cycle to break.”
Dorothy has been dealing with PTSD for more than 20 years. She says this session gave her a shocking reaction.
“I’ve been in therapy a long time I’ve tried a lot of things and I never got a response or a reaction on the first time ever. But I did this. And it’s so profound and so moving that it scares me a little bit,” says Dorothy.
Change doesn’t happen overnight but Megan says the healing happens through the process.
“With the two of them working together, it brings forward a lot of healing and a lot of stress relief, resiliency of PTSD symptoms. A lot of healthy behaviors are developed,” says Sundeen.
Megan Sundeen has made it her goal to help as many veterans win their inner-battles as possible. The program is at no cost because of grants and donations for veterans. Active servicemen and their families because she says PTSD is a family battle.