Horse Pills: A New Therapy for Those Suffering from PTSD

June 15, 2018

Written by guest blogger, Ellen Kaye Gehrke.


Happy Trails, photo of a man petting a horse

Although we just had our paper published in the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, it really does not address the deepest issues around PTSD and what horses can do to instigate and sustain healing from trauma. We did capture some great quantitative information and demonstrated that the health of the Veterans substantially improved with exposure and connection to horses. We also were happy to discover the significance when we measured their positive affect as to how much more confident they were feeling about themselves. Those of us who regularly work with horses and have a philosophy of horse as partner already knew what we had to prove with evidence. The true benefit was witnessing the transformation of the Veterans as they safely, and in their own way, stripped away layer upon layer of pain, suffering, isolation, self-doubt, disconnection and silent suffering and were comforted and reinforced by their heart connection with their horses. The program was not just about riding- it was about feeling whole again with the help of horses and a genuinely caring group of wranglers, instructors, fellow veterans, and, of course, some amazing open hearted horses.

We are writing another article that includes the qualitative results. Veterans kept a weekly journal answering specific questions about the topic of discovering and healing each week and wrote their thoughts, reflections and insights. These provided far more power to our research and allow us to dive deeper into how horses really do give the support and confidence for the journey back from some dark places Veterans go who are suffering from PTSD and TBI.

One particular quote from a Veteran who had been contemplating suicide gave us the goose bumps when they wrote: “I look forward each week to being with (name of horse) than to being in heaven.”

Stay tuned. We will be glad to answer any questions about the program and the results to the readers. Meanwhile we recommend Horse Pills over other medications for relief of PTSD.

Happy Trails,
Dr. Ellen Kaye Gehrke


Ellen Kaye Gehrke, PhD, is the program director of the Masters of Science in Complementary and Integrative Health, and is a Professor of Health Sciences in the School of Health and Human Services, National University, San Diego, California. Her article “Measuring the psychophysiological changes in combat Veterans participating in an equine therapy program” can be found in the latest issue of the completely open access Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health. Read it online here.

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