Veterans & First Responders Program

Mullen & Mullen Law Firm has joined forces with two 501c3 charities, Evanescent Mustang Rescue & Sanctuary and Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center, to sponsor and bring awareness to a new EFP program in North Texas that will assist Veterans, first responders, and wild mustangs.

What is EFP?

EFP stands for Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, which is a non-traditional therapy utilizing horses. In studies, EFP has shown to help reduce symptoms of PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. Instead of asking participants to talk about and relive their trauma, which most are reluctant to do, it fosters confidence, trust building, emotional grounding, and self-reflection by teaching horse skills.

Veteran Learning to Ride at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX
Veteran Learning to Ride at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX

Veterans and first responders suffer from many of the same stress and trauma-related mental health conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, anger, traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance abuse, inability to trust, trouble reintegrating, and increased suicide rates. Captive wild mustangs suffer from similar issues and when Veterans and first responders work with them, they realize an affinity with these special horses.

Two Rescued Mustangs
Candace Ray, LPC & Executive Director of Evanescent Mustang Rescue & Sanctuary with Newly Rescued Mustangs Epona, Comanche, & Ariana

What Makes Horses, and Especially Mustangs, Special for This Job?

As the very true saying goes, you cannot hide anything from a horse. Whatever feelings you bring into their space, they will mirror back to you, creating the perfect, non-verbal, biofeedback loop. And mustangs, having lived wild and free, have a heightened sensitivity and flight or fight response over domesticated horses. Mustangs also experience great trauma at the hands of humans in the capture process, and this makes them ideal for an EFP program.

Veterans, First Responders & Wild Mustangs EFP Program
Mustangs Rescued from Slaughter at Evanescent Mustang Rescue & Sanctuary in Sherman, TX

While interacting with a horse, you are not thinking about your past trauma or worrying about the future but are required to remain calm. Working with a horse, and especially a mustang, requires you to be 100% present with your own feelings which teaches self-regulation in a way traditional talk-therapy can’t.

Also, a horse’s heart has an electromagnetic field five times greater than that of a human. To understand how this is relevant to helping with trauma responses, read: Cardiac Coherence: The Inner Power that Horses Reveal to Us. This is wonderful information for anyone considering EFP.

The participants will work with mustangs who were rescued from slaughter who are also battling a variety of issues. These horses have depression, anxiety, and PTSD after being traumatically rounded up, separated from their families, and forced to try and integrate into a new life that is different from anything they’ve previously experienced. The Veterans and first responders will not only be learning new coping skills by working with the mustangs but will also be helping them to learn to trust humans which will help them get adopted.

Veterans Learning Horse Skills at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX
Veterans Learning Horse Skills at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX

Specifics About This New EFP Program in North Texas for Veterans & First Responders

Mullen & Mullen Law Firm will initially be sponsoring four veterans or first-responders to participate in this 10-week EFP course to be facilitated in Sherman, TX, approximately 30 minutes north of McKinney. If you are not selected as one of the four sponsored by our law firm, you may still be able to participate in the upcoming or future sessions, if space allows, so please do submit the form below. It is the desire of all involved in this program that no Veteran or first responder in need of these services is turned away.

This new program at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center, called Veterans & War Horses, is an experiential therapeutic program designed to create a powerful experience for each group participant. It includes 20 hours total, consisting of 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. Rather than talking one-on-one with a therapist in an office, the course offers an outdoor setting combining a trauma-focused psychotherapist, and a PATH International Certified instructor.

Veteran Learning to Ride at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX
Veteran Learning to Ride at Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center in Sherman, TX

Veterans & War Horses is customized based on participant needs with modifications for disabilities and all needed equipment is provided. EFP is designed to help reduce trauma responses while learning self-regulation, mindfulness, boundaries, confidence, and trust. The psychotherapist assists the participant in recognizing their triggers, emotional responses, and releasing toxic trauma they may be holding onto.

The first few sessions are focused on trust building while evaluating the participant’s horse knowledge and comfort level, which will include basic horse care and groundwork exercises (horse behaviors, grooming, leading horses), before moving on to the next step of mounting and riding. Veterans and first responders may graduate after their first course or request to return for another 10-week session, depending on their progress.

You will also be asked to participate, if you are so inclined and feel comfortable, in a testimonial/short documentary type video that will be used to help promote the program locally.

Saturday, 9/17/22 is the planned start date for the fall session. If you would like to be selected to participate, free of charge, in the upcoming fall course (or a future course), please fill out the form below to be considered. Papers needed will be a copy of your DD214 (Veterans only) and a physician assessment.

How & When Will the Participants Be Chosen & Notified

We will choose the participants based on a drawing on September 1, and will notify them by email and/or phone. If you are not chosen for the first course, by signing-up below, you may be selected for a future course. We will keep all names for future drawings. If you are not selected as one of the four sponsored by our law firm, you may still be able to participate in the upcoming or future sessions, if space allows, so please do submit the form below. It is the desire of all involved in this program that no Veteran or first responder in need of these services is turned away.

Program Schedule

When:

Sessions will be held on consecutive Saturday mornings, from 9:00am to 11:00am, starting on 9/17/2022.
Dates: 9/17, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 11/5, 11/12, 11/19
Time: 9:00am to 11:00am

Where:

Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center
2822 Luella Rd, Sherman, TX 75090

Sign-up Now

Donate

If you are interested in helping support this program and the efforts of these two organizations, you can learn more about them and donate by visiting their websites.
Evanescent Mustang Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc.

Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center

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