Equine-assisted interventions

I was recently invited by Alexander Varn, a German military psychologist, and friend, to observe his first part of an interesting research study on the effectiveness of equine-assisted interventions.

 While looking out of the window of the fast-moving ICE returning to my home-base stable, my thoughts reflectively strolled through the past couple of days. I have been deep-diving into my personal research on Movement Method effectiveness for months now and took a little luxurious journey into a different world, the world of equine-assisted interventions. Stunning work!

Not wanting to say too much and to keep the suspense, let me just say, the German military is investing in a longitudinal study to explore the effectiveness of equine-assisted interventions, in particular for PTSD. Many of us have anecdotal records of the successes our equine partner can accomplish, but especially for large organizations and for insurances to accept the value, scientific evidence is absolutely needed.

I am thrilled to see the outstanding work they were doing. A dream team of three, highly organized and structured in their research work, flexible, empathetic and compassionate with their clients. They are working with soldiers and horses. To see the incredible impact our gentle four-legged friends can make in our efforts to ease suffering was a true blessing.

Horses can be mirrors of our inner turmoil, they can hold up a true reflection of our inner soul. They can read suffering, they can feel every emotion, and they hold you to your true self. This is not always easy to take, and when it comes to communication and relationship, they can clearly show us our struggles.

The brilliance of the study is that equine work is finally of interest to places that could hugely benefit from the knowledge and effects. If the German Bundeswehr is financing a study and seeing it as worth their while (and much other huge cooperation already know the importance of equine-assisted interventions, learning, and therapies) it is a step in the right direction to allow people access to improved well-being and healing.

My dad retired from the German military and my husband retired from the US Coast Guard; I understand what a military life can look like- fortunately I never truly encountered the suffering that so many of them have to go through; some veteran stories are so far beyond our understanding that we can in no way comprehend their suffering or consequences they may experience- in addition to some individuals experiencing horrid things, it impacts families, friends, communities. Listening to more and more of those stories, I would like to encourage you if you already setting up work with horses and folks in need- please consider broadening the idea of offering- think of veterans in the community and first responders.

I have seen many many success stories where the horse became the medium, the partner to help folks through their suffering to go from dark places back to some glimpses of light and hope, from isolation back to reconnecting with a spouse and children.

It was an eye-opening learning experience to be able to follow the study and shadow Alex and his team for an entire day. I will forever be grateful for that life-changing experience. It truly shows what is important in life and the true blessing “HORSE” who allow us to partner up with them and benefit from the wisdom.


Alex Vern