Organization helps vets recover with wild mustangs - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Organization helps vets recover with wild mustangs

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Steve Herbel, a veteran of four combat tours, a survivor of six explosions. He was medically retired from the military and since has struggled with PTSD.

Coal Chamber is a wild mustang, and after working together for three months Herbel says Coal Chamber is his cure.

"The fact that when I got out I was on 15 medications a day, I was seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, numerous VA appointments and now I'm not on any medication despite all my anxieties and depressions, and my headache pains. I've lost numerous amount of weight and I find that when you interact with a horse and you establish its trust you start carrying those behaviors, you don't attack the identity you just address the behavior and you start carrying those relationships to your family your friends and the people you meet, it gives you confidence," Herbel said.

Herbel added, "The horse is non-biased and nonjudgmental, it doesn't care if you didn't save your marriage, it doesn't care if you didn't bring your buddies home. It's not like if you go up to a doctor and the doctor asks your fine and you say you're doing okay just to get the heck out of there. You can't do that with a horse, a horse has the same receptors that a dog does it could pick up anything that you're feeling inside so if you don't trust yourself how is a horse going to trust you"

At the Mustang Heritage Foundation the mission is to find homes for mustangs. They thought allowing vets to train the horses would serve both parties very well.

"In order to gain a wild horses trust, you have to learn a lot about yourself and a lot of times people don't realize the turmoil that's going on inside of them, but a wild horse senses it instantly, they're very sensual, they're a survival type animal, just like a veteran is a survival type person," said Byron Hogan of Mustang Heritage Foundation.

Mary B is a survivor who now after her time with Pacos is thriving once again. It's a partnership. She came here three times a week for three months.

"It is and everyday it just built and when I came back out the next day, he wanted to see me, he never deceived me he never lied to me it was pure and so it just built everyday as we did different things and I was just amazed, what I could do with him," Mary B said.

On the physical level the vets calm down the horses enough to meet basic criteria so the horses can be adopted out. They trained them in things like accepting a bridle or offering up a hoof for shoeing. On the physiological level, the horses ended up teaching the vets about who they are and how to go forward in the world.

"A horse is not biased, it doesn't judge you so the vet instantaneously identifies with the horse because it's a truth based process. I know that if I go into the arena and I'm not right, I'm not going to be able to get on the back of that horse, "she said.

For more information about the program click here.

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