Utah National Guard Veteran Daniel “Whit” Whitaker mounts his darkish bay horse. Using small, easy motions to information the animal, Whit and his horse “Chico” make a number of circles across the area.

Watching the superbly paired group, you’d assume they’d been using collectively for years, however the two solely met a pair hours earlier than their nationwide competitors in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“It’s like when you’re test-driving cars, some of them just feel good. It just felt right,” mentioned Whit, relating to his on the spot reference to Chico.

Whit has had a reference to horses for many of his life, rising up on his household’s ranch. He joined the Utah National Guard in 2000 as a solution to serve however nonetheless work on the ranch. When September 11 occurred, he walked away from the farm to give attention to the navy. Deployments in Iraq and coaching his fellow troopers stored him off horseback for practically a decade, however a path experience on trip rekindled his love of horses.

“Probably forgotten more than I knew about horses at that point,” mentioned Whit.

Watch Heroes on Horses Video

Then whereas going to high school at Utah State University, Whit discovered the Equine Human Services program.

“They were doing a lot of good work with the VA, with their startup program. And it really appealed to me,” mentioned Whit

A couple of years into this system, he’s now serving to his fellow Veterans as a volunteer and sees firsthand the impact equine remedy has on them.  

“I see a lot of nerves in the beginning and then usually within an hour or two– smiles. So yeah, you just watch everybody find a place to relax,” mentioned Whit.

VA Salt Lake City Health Care System collaborates with group companions to offer equine-assisted companies to Veterans. If you have an interest in studying extra about this system, head to Horses Helping Veterans | VA Salt Lake City Health Care | Veterans Affairs .

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