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Horses have healing power

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By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

Brooks County, GA (WALB) -  There's a new kind of therapy for veterans with post traumatic stress disorders-- riding horses. Horses can be the key to turning lives around, according to the owner of Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility.  

Mike Randall says riding horses has helped his three sons fight their battles with post traumatic stress disorder.  "You go through a lot of things," said Randall. "Your friends dying, losing arms and legs. You deal with this 12-18 months on a tour sometimes 3-4 months on a tour in a combat situation."

These instances are hard to forget. Randall is a vet himself and for his sons and others out there who suffer from PTSD, he started the Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility three months ago. "I know for a fact this horse is not going hurt me," said Jeremy Randall. "There's nothing out there that's gonna hurt me. Me and the horse can be alone."

Veterans with PTSD can learn to barrel race, trail ride or just spend time around horses. The Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility wants military to know they're here for them.

Veterans learn to trust again after losing battle buddies and making other sacrifices. "Kind of like being in a free situation, being out riding in the woods, and watching the deer."said Randall. "Wildlife is relaxing to them."

When you're on a horse you have to focus all you're attention on riding and what the horse might do. With Randall's horseman skills and military background he learned horses could be therapeutic for those with PTSD.

The disorder can be very severe. Randall didn't realize one of his son's had the disorder when he came back from a tour in Iraq.  "He had to go to Texas for something in the military," said Randall. "Well three months went by and we didn't here anything from him. We finally found him on the border of Texas and Mexico living in a van homeless like he was in Iraq."

Randall only knows of two other facilities in the nation like this. One in Texas and one near Tampa, Florida .  

This weekend the facility is hosting their first event with a military group coming all the way to Brooks County from Kentucky. They'll trail ride part of the time and head to Wild Adventures on Sunday.

Because of horses Mike Randall's sons are recovering. Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility is a non-profit organization. Anyone who wants to help change veterans' lives, call 229-263-4773. Military members and veterans can ride at no cost.  

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