By: Mike Spector
“For centuries, the belief has existed that horses are good for the soul.
More recently that age-old adage has been put to the test by many programs that are using horses to help people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other mental health disorders. Yet little, if any, research exists to demonstrate the benefits of equine therapy.
Now, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center are taking the next step, using scientific methods to quantify the effectiveness of using horses to provide a well-defined clinical treatment for war veterans that suffer from PTSD in a new program called The Man O’ War Project.
“There are lots of wonderful programs out there that provide positive experiences for veterans,” said Anne Poulson, President of the Man O’ War Project. “The Man O’ War Project is different in that it is specifically designed to provide a clinical treatment alternative for veterans with PTSD. By applying a scientific approach, we hope to standardize treatment so that it can be distributed to equine therapy programs around the nation.”
The Man O’ War Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Columbia University Medical Center researchers in this first ever university-led research trial aimed specifically at veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
Founded by Ambassador Earle I. Mack, a veteran of the U.S. Army and avid racehorse aftercare advocate, the project will determine the effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Therapy for treating PTSD (EAT-PTSD) and establish manualized guidelines for the application of EAT-PTSD.
The program is taking place at the Bergen Equestrian Center in Leonia, N.J., and began last year. Approximately 60 veterans will go through the program by the end of the year to get a statistically valid sample for the study.”