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Because of Horses

Mar 22, 2019

For veterans who are working to transition from active-duty to civilian life, War Horses for Veterans has become one of the premier programs for horsemanship, networking and personal growth.


Founded in 2014, War Horses for Veterans is the brainchild of Patrick Benson, an equestrian and Army combat infantryman who served in Iraq from 1998-2004. Patrick recognized the unique challenges faced by veterans, who struggle with depression or PTSD following their service. He knew how beneficial horses had been to his own healing process. Patrick worked with co-founders Andy and Patricia Brown to create the organization, based at their Stilwell, Kansas, property.

War Horses for Veterans offers three-day programs during which groups of five to six veterans learn the basics of horsemanship and work to create a network of support. Led by veterans, participants have a safe and peaceful environment in which they can begin to define what they need to learn, change to meet their goals. The program provides an alternative to conventional therapy or medication.


War Horses for Veterans expanded its offerings in 2018 and launched a program for spouses. Through a VFW Foundation Grant, War Horses for Veterans has been training volunteers for its Mentorship Leadership Development Program. In addition, the Browns have established an endowment to support the work of the organization into the future.

War Horses for Veterans is supported entirely by donations and grants. Veterans do not pay to participate and can return as many times as they wish so long as they bring another veteran. The program also covers airline tickets, lodging and meals. Veterans need not have previous horse experience to participate.




Topics of Discussion:

[:18] About today’s episode.

[1:44] What led to War Horses’ creation and how it has evolved since its conception.

[4:24] How working with horses proves to be incredibly healing for combat veterans with  PTSD.

[8:12] Patrick tells the story about the horse that changed his life.

[16:03] The aspects that make War Horses so significant in the lives of participants.

[23:18] Statistics that prove the positive effects of equine therapy for combat veterans.

[23:46] What it is like for Patrick to witness the evolution in the War Horses’ participants from the moment they first walk in, to the time they leave the program. He also talks about the beautiful connections he has made with the horses, himself.

[27:07] Patrick talks about his experience in working with the horses and the process of building emotional memory through reinforced, continued interaction.

[32:18] Patrick explains another fantastic program War Horses for Veterans offers: a program for spouses.

[36:36] Patrick talks about the horses and describes some of the participants’ favorites.

[42:11] Another fantastic part about War Horses: the participants do not need any previous horse experience.

[45:22] What the recognition Patrick has experienced from War Horses means to him.

[47:30] Patrick shares the story of the recent gift he received in recognition for his work with War Horses.

[50:03] About next week’s episode of Because of Horses.

[51:16] A story that particularly stands out for Patrick.

[53:52] Where to learn more about War Horses for Veterans.


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Mentioned in this Episode:

War Horses for Veterans

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH Studies on equine therapy for veterans

Contact: and

Next week’s episode of Because of Horses


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