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Horses helping veterans: "My therapist lives in a barn"

There’s a T-shirt that says: My therapist lives in a barn.

Richard Mosley isn’t wearing one, but he’s a believer.

His therapists are seven horses among the 90 that live at Buffalo Meadows Ranch in San Timoteo Canyon. The exercises he did with them over seven weeks late last year have been his salvation, he said.

Mosley, 45, has gone from being an angry, suicidal Iraq war veteran with post traumatic stress disorder and on the brink of divorce to a man who has found some peace with himself and is working to mend the family that he nearly shattered.

He is one of more than 100 troubled veterans who have been treated free of charge by a program called Equus Medendi, which means the healing horse.

Horses helping Veterans

Angie Sheer, 45, who leads the three-year-old program, is a lifelong horsewoman and certified equine specialist who trained with Monty Roberts, whose skill earned him a nickname – the Horse Whisperer. While programs that offer horse-assisted therapy are not uncommon, Sheer says hers is fine-tuned toward helping veterans.

“It’s innovative. It’s alternative. It’s not run-of-the-mill therapy,” she said on a warm winter day at the ranch. “It takes some open-mindedness.”

Sheer believes horses are perfect for therapy because they are prey animals, not predators. They are keenly aware of their environment and tuned in to the intentions of potential predators, including people. Horses will cooperate with people they trust, but ignore or flee those who exude anger, anxiety and other negative emotions.

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