ABC7 Salutes Horses for Forces program which helps veterans heal

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A program in Long Beach called "Horses for Forces" is using the healing power of equine therapy to help veterans overcome those issues and in many cases get their lives back. (KABC)

When U.S. veterans come back home, they often face many challenges, both physical and mental.

But a program in Long Beach called Horses for Forces is using the healing power of equine therapy to help veterans overcome those issues and in many cases get their lives back.

Below the L.A. Metro Line, just yards from the 405 Freeway, is a private sanctuary where visitors can relax with hummingbirds, flowers and horses.

Here Navy veteran Abbie Johnson finds healing with her therapeutic guide Tristan, a retired race horse.

"I went through some really hard things in the military that left me very untrusting," she said.

Horses for Forces is one of Dreamcatcher L.A.'s horse therapy programs. It helps veterans overcome injuries, physical and emotional.

"I really feel alive when I'm on a horse. Just the movement. You're two different beings, but you're moving as one," Johnson said.

It takes a lot of money to stable, maintain and care for the horses and to teach the classes. But it's the program's mission to provide these services free for vets.

"There are so many veterans in California, and Los Angeles in particular, has a huge veteran community. We work with the West L.A. V.A. and the Long Beach V.A.," founder Joan Blank said.

The Hollywood Charity Horseshow, funded by Wells Fargo and Priceline, is one of the benefactors. Actor William Shatner spearheads the annual June fundraiser that raises money for children and vets.

"It's up to us, the people who live in this country, to help them. And this is our way to try to stretch a hand out," Shatner said.

Blank said Horses for Forces also teaches vets how to care for horses and they go on to get jobs.

"It's so easy for veterans to go into their own world and retreat and not want to be around people," Johnson said. "I mean this is a really great outlet for us."
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societyABC7 SalutestherapyhorsesjobsmilitaryveteransLong BeachLos Angeles County
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