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For Women Only


While most of the programs are open to men and women veterans, there is one program Nancy declares “for women only.” Each summer, she holds several Women’s Veteran’s Day Retreats. Because the women veterans have largely been underserved, Nancy wanted to start a program exclusively for them. At the day retreats, in the company of other women with like issues and backgrounds, they can explore things not easily spoken of in small sterile offi ces.


The day retreats are quite diff erent than the Cowboy Up! program in that there is no riding or teaching horsemanship. This is all about exploring the healing process rather than trying to accomplish certain goals with horses. Through a series of groundwork exercises, the women create a partnership with the horse. Many female veterans live within very diff erent walls than men, and the day retreats among the camaraderie of other women who’ve lived it, and the honesty of a horse who hears them, helps to crack open those walls.


Director Rick Iannucci shows fi rst


female graduate Emily Ruch the basics of low-stress cat le movement.


for others too, about being part of a big family, and helping the neigh- bors. It’s not always riding and cowing at Horses For Heroes Cowboy Up! T e day might be spent loading a truck with tools, parts and pipes to help a neighbor with a broken windmill. Helping neighbors is a big part of the cowboy code and soldier’s creed. T e volunteers, veterans and neighbors are hard at work building a


stress at home, and now to life among dust, mud, sun, rain and friends. T ey know how camaraderie and working together is as good as it gets and is familiar to veterans. T ese warriors may not have felt that camaraderie for years, as the walls don’t only lock in, but lock out, too.


TAPPING INTO THEIR SKILLS Rick understands that veterans coming to Horses For Heroes


Cowboy Up! bring with them not only the torment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), injuries or a sense of confusion but a strong desire to overcome those issues. To address that confusion, Rick taps the skills and training each veteran possesses. He’ll ask the veteran what their job had been and fi nd a way to use those skills on the ranch. In that way a veteran can learn new skill sets that will serve him or her without starting over completely. And it roots them by standing fi rmly on ground they can fi nd familiar. As an example, Rick explained, if a Marine is going to advance, per-


haps to rescue a stranded fellow Marine, they are trained to survey the lay of the land. Where might the danger be? What is the safest course to travel? He teaches the veteran to use that training when they are looking for a lost momma cow or calf. In surveying the terrain as they were trained, they can identify likely hiding places as well as the most sensible approach. Just as charging right in to rescue a fellow Marine would be dangerous, charging across open land toward the nearest ravine will most likely only scat er the cat le. By applying skills they already know to a new job, the veteran can fi nd strong roots in themselves and chip another hole in the wall of confusion.


THE COWBOY CODE T e cowboy code is about more than being


a good horseman or cowman. It’s about caring WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US • October 2012 | 77


bunkhouse so next year even more veterans can come learn how to sit a horse, drink coff ee around a campfi re with friends, and tear down a few walls. Nancy and Rick have created a unique program that can help change lives and restore hope and confi dence. Let the walls of the new bunkhouse be fi lled with pictures of smiling, laughing faces by this time next year! To learn more about Horses For Heroes New Mexico, Inc, Cowboy


Up!, their programs or how you can get involved, visit their website www.horsesforheroes.org


Dutch Henry is a writer and novelist who writes about “People & Horses Helping Horses & People.” He resides in Virginia with his wife of 36 years, Robin, and a horse, dogs, cats and chickens. Dutch also does T erapy For T erapy Horse Clinics at therapeutic riding centers


across the country to help horses maintain proper posture, move- ment and body carriage—because therapy horses can use a lit le therapy, too. You can reach Dutch at dutchhenry@hughes.net—he would love to hear from you. His novel, “We’ll Have the Summer,” is available on Amazon and at www.dutchhenryauthor.com


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