West Plains equine center helps veterans battle PTSD symptoms

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – After serving the military in Vietnam, Allen Dye of West Plains now serves other veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – through horseback riding and mentoring.

According to American Addiction Centers, the most preventable health problem in the United States is suicide: 20 veterans commit suicide each day in the U.S., and nearly 75 percent of them aren’t under Veterans Affairs care.

Dye says after researching, he found that horseback riding has greatly helped veterans with PTSD. Dye kept the idea in his mind for years, and finally decided to create Veteran Equine Training Services of the Ozarks. The group was incorporated in May 2022, and is trying to spread the word.

“Working with the horses is simple, and teaching people how to ride is simple,” Dye said. “Setting up a corporation is a mountain to climb, but I just want to get them out of whatever environment they are in, get them down here in the woods and get them in a round pen with a horse to teach them the proper techniques. The good news is, the horses they will be working with are already trained, so I will just be teaching them the basics.”

Participating veterans will learn proper methods of saddling a horse, mounting, dismounting and ground exercises, as well as round-pen and arena riding once they become comfortable in the saddle. Once veterans are comfortable on their own, they will have the option of participating in trail rides.

“The interesting thing about this is, when you get in the round pen with a horse the rest of the world fades away and you are focused on this. There is bonding that goes on, and horses are pretty sharp. They can tell what kind of person you are. We encourage vets to get close to the horse, blow in his nostrils on introduction, and things like that, so the horse gets comfortable.”

Dye says veterans also have brought their own horses to him for training and learning the basics. 

Services are free of charge for veterans. Interested participants are offered riding experience once a week for two hours from May through October. Dye hopes to run 25 veterans through his initiative in 2022, and says veterans’ spouses might be able to join in on the activities next year.

Those interested in more information can reach out to Allen Dye at 877-5FORVET or visit his boarding website here.

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