Metro foundation using horse therapy to help combat veterans transition to civilian life

STILWELL, Kan. -- A foundation is helping combat veterans successfully transition back into civilian life through what can only be described as horse therapy.

War Horses For Veterans teaches veterans how to groom, train and ride horses.

Some wonder how horses can help prepare former soldiers for the return to society. Veterans say the majestic animals have proven to be a bridge for those struggling to overcome the trauma of war.

Started by an Iraq war veteran who made horses his business, the charity flies veterans out to the Kansas farm at no cost for a three-day immersive experience working with horses.

Participants learn how the animals will mirror their emotions and help them overcome insecurities and vulnerabilities.

It also helps first-responders cope with stress. Law enforcement officer Gary Graniewski said the program has helped him cope with depression and anxiety.

"I can work a horse," Graniewski said. "I can think about things and come up with solutions, problems solve. When I walk out that gate, whatever issues I happen to be dealing with, it doesn’t make a difference what it is. I’m better able to handle it. Better able to approach it with a clear mind, more focus. That’s what these horses have helped me do."

At the end of three days of veterans helping veterans, the networking that takes place also helps participants find jobs that put them on the path to successful careers.

So far, eight veterans who flew into town for the program ended up moving to Kansas City after landing new jobs. The program has served more than 200 during the last four years.

Working with horses is expensive, and the foundation is staging a 5k walk or run on Nov. 10 at the Liberty Memorial to raise money for its operations. To learn more, go to this site.