The H.O.O.V.E.S. (Healing of Veterans through Equine-Assisted Services)
therapeutic program is now being offered at Vail Meadows Equestrian Riding Center in Oregon.
The program was founded by Amanda Thompson, of Riverbend Equine Therapy in Grand Rapids, who is an equine specialist certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Foundation.
A lifelong equestrian, Thompson is a veteran who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after her military service. She started the program with the goal of reaching out to fellow veterans and sharing her recovery experiences with them.
Therapist Jodi Franks, also a lifelong equestrian, will work with Thompson during the H.O.O.V.E.S. therapy sessions. The parent of two children in the military, she is interested in exploring the idea of using pets as co-therapists.
The purpose of the program is to assist veterans suffering from depression, PTSD, addictions or other mental disorders (war or non-war related) in the healing process through the use of equine-assisted psychotherapy. The therapy, offered outside of a traditional office setting, in a casual and relaxed atmosphere, is geared to help break down barriers and improve communication to help participants with problem-solving, anger management, self-esteem, relationship skills and coping skills.
Offering the H.O.O.V.E.S. program was a perfect fit for Vail Meadows, according to executive director Wally Bell. “Vail Meadows is one of the largest therapeutic riding facilities in Northwest Ohio,” he said. “They have a strong interest and belief in this unique therapy and have volunteered to house the program.”
The H.O.O.V.E.S. program, currently in the process of obtaining non-profit status, currently runs solely on donations. Anyone interested in supporting the program and/or sponsoring a veteran may visit www.riverbend-stables.com. Click on the “H.O.O.V.E.S.” link. Donations may also be mailed to The H.O.O.V.E.S. Program, 12150 US Route 24, Grand Rapids, OH 43522.
Veterans interested in participating in the program or who would like more information may call Thompson at 419-930-7936.
Those interested in learning more about the H.O.O.V.E.S. program are invited to an open house March 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Vail Meadows, located at 6118 Cedar Point Rd. in Oregon. Those attending are encouraged to dress for the weather and participation.