The Medicine Horse Center, which promotes healing processes through equine therapy, is holding a fundraiser Friday to build its services to veterans.
A major goal is to have a mental-health professional present during a client’s session with a therapeutic riding instructor, program coordinator Emily Campbell said.
Medicine Horse Center has treated veterans since its founding 14 years ago, Campbell said. But the increasing number of veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome calls for a more formal program.
A 28-minute documentary film, “Riding My Way Back,” will be shown starting at 7 p.m. Friday. It’s the story of how a soldier who was taking 42 medications to cope with brain damage and post-traumatic stress disorder pulled back from suicide after entering an equine-therapy program in the East.
“The program is similar to the one we have,” Campbell said. “It can turn your life around.”
Young and old can benefit from the association with horses, Campbell said. The center’s youngest client was 3 years old, its oldest, 90.
The Medicine Horse Center started in Cortez in 2000, then moved its home office to Mancos in 2002. A Durango branch opened on East Animas Road (County Road 250) in 2005.
Between the two locations, Medicine Horse Center has 13 equines, including a thoroughbred, a mustang and an Icelandic.
Not any horse will do, Campell said.
“A horse must show it has a calm enough disposition to do the work we do,” Campbell said.
Therapeutic riding isn’t necessarily in-the-saddle sessions, Campbell said. Many people aren’t comfortable on a horse, so the goal is to build a relationship through physical contact such as grooming, she said.
The fundraiser is scheduled from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lodge, 901 East Second Ave. The keynote speaker is Philip Tedeschi, the executive director and cofounder of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver where he is a professor.
Tedeschi is known for his research in Africa on animal therapy, specifically the use of orphaned elephants to foster healing in orphaned people, Campbell said.
He will speak 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.
There will door prizes and a silent auction.