Aligning Veterans’ Strengths with Horses’ Freedom for Healing

Soul to Soles Connection, a 501 (c) 3 organization, is dedicated to the mental health of our military and their families/caregivers. Participants, suffering from trauma, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) or Military Sexual Trauma (MST), are offered the time to heal and overcome challenges with the support of our professional facilitators – a licensed mental health professional, certified equine specialist & the horses.

Our mission offers mental health treatment, with horses, focused on reducing the impact of trauma, while rediscovering confidence, compassion, and trust. We honor all by providing a supportive haven – a place where concerns and struggles can be explored and released. The experiential nature of working with horses, engages the active and retired military in their own healing process, reaching solutions that meet them squarely on their own terms.

We are committed to “Stomping the Stigma” around mental health, especially within the military, through individual/couple/family sessions, closed groups, and retreats.

Soul to Soles Connection is currently recruiting Veterans and service members to participate in mental health interventions, with horses, aimed at treating trauma and the impacts of military service. There is no cost to U.S. Veterans and Service Members.

Here’s why our program is valuable for service members, Veterans and their families:

NOVEL & ENGAGING

The non-traditional setting helps service members move beyond the perceived stigma that can be associated with talk-only therapy and office visits.

BREAKTHROUGHS

These highly-in-tuned animals offer safe reflection and compelling feedback for fears and anxieties that military clients may be facing. In the hands of our professional facilitators, the horses’ unique sensitivity can help clients understand their own internal processes more readily than hours of talk.

HERD DYNAMICS

Horses live in herds. Herd dynamics can help clients understand their own lives.  Observing the dynamics of the herd can help clients better understand the dynamics of their own family, military unit, and community. This provides another positive model for collaboration, support and trust.

FOSTERS RESILIENCE

Life is about experience and doing. Our work provides opportunities for service members and their families to discover their resources and strengths. They can overcome perceived obstacles to change and grow in their unit, communities, and homes. Clients challenge themselves in activities that remove the perceived stigma associated with traditional talk therapy.

Watch Eagala Therapy Leaders Meet with Congress

“In the Horse Capital of the World, horses are integrated into most aspects of life, whether for work on a farm, entertainment at Keeneland, or just part of a family as a pet. So, it’s only natural they find their way into the field of health.

“One thing about our veterans is that with PTSD, they are hyper-vigilant to everything around them but it’s difficult to stay in the moment,” CEO and Co-Founder of Acres for Life Therapy and Wellness Center Lynn Moore said. “So, they can learn from those horses about what it’s like to be able to be calm, be present.”

DONATE TO SOUL TO SOLES CONNECTION

100% of your generous donation goes towards the mental health treatment of our service members and their families!

Learn more about Soul to Soles Connection here. 

WILLOW EQUINE PARTNERS

“For someone in the military like me, it’s hard to swallow my pride and ask for help. This was a safe environment to open up in. Sometimes the horses talked for me and helped show me the path to save my marriage.”

-Active Duty Veteran 

“The Eagala Model uses the horse to gain insight into behaviors horse’s and perceptions. The reactions provide unbiased and real time breaking feedback, through the barriers that many experience military members in conversations with others who cannot begin to understand what we feel because we made it back.”

Jimmy L. Walters, COL, USA (Ret)

Willow Equine allows the Veteran to bask in sensory stimulation … enjoy the warm beams of sunshine that rest upon cheekbones or catch a whiff of honeysuckle while being serenaded by a chorus of birds chirping. Simple freedoms such as these are a gentle reminder of all that Veterans, and their family members, sacrifice to protect our homeland and the liberties offered to all residing here. Despite the magnitude of what these Veterans faced in combat, a trip to Willow Equine leaves them filled with gratitude. They understand that these simple freedoms are anything but simple.

-Terri Gilbeau, CTRS VA Medical Center, Salisbury, North Carolina

“My 14 year old son and I began coming to Willow Equine almost two years ago. We had  both been dealing with our fair share of personal trauma and were essentially in survival mode.  He had dealt with the fallout from my struggles with alcoholism and addiction, the breakdown of his family and his father’s sudden death. I needed a place to begin to heal from the pain of  life. The environment was safe and inviting. The team of counselor and equine-specialist  established an authentic space free from judgement. I watched my son become less angry,  bitter, and sarcastic. I watched him be enveloped by love and support. I watched him be disarmed by the relationships he formed with the horses and llamas. I saw him learn that ‘not  if, but when’ life gets hard, you reach out for help. I can speak firsthand of the benefits of my involvement with Willow Equine. Horses are emotionally sensitive animals and tend to reflect the energy and body language around them. Being in the horse’s presence naturally helped to bring to the surface many troublesome thoughts and feelings that needed to be dealt with. These were opportunities to move through  the difficulty with the help of the counselor and equine-specialist. I often say that the horses  ‘do the heavy lifting’, when it comes to walking through the tough stuff. For me, the spirit of  the horses combined with the unique support of the humans is an equation that adds to healing.”

-Anonymous