SUNY Cobleskill is pleased to announce the offering of its Therapeutic Horsemanship Veterans Program during Winter Session, Dec. 2020 through Jan. 2021. The program is made possible, in part, through funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Adaptive Sports Grant and donor support. Additionally, SUNY Cobleskill is launching the Therapeutic Horsemanship Life Skills Micro-credential which will be free to all Veterans wishing to register through the Winter Session program.
Participants will need to commit to a five-week, hands-on experience. Veterans will work with horses at SUNY Cobleskill’s Equine Center in-ground programming or recreational horseback riding. One-hour weekly sessions will be limited to four participants each to maintain social distancing protocols, and several time frames are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program is disability accessible and open to Veterans of all physical abilities. No prior training or interaction with horses is required.
The SUNY Cobleskill Therapeutic Horsemanship program was one of fourteen Therapeutic Horsemanship programs nationwide to receive the 2020 VA Adaptive Sports Grant. Funding will allow the program to expand Equine Assisted Services by offering additional sessions and acquiring a lift to allow Veterans in wheelchairs an opportunity to experience recreational horseback riding. The Adaptive Sports Grant Program is run by the National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events Office (NVSP&SE) at the VA. The mission of the office is to provide opportunities for Veterans to improve their independence, well-being, and quality of life through adaptive sports and therapeutic arts programs.
Last year, the SUNY Cobleskill Therapeutic Horsemanship Program began a collaboration with the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center to provide a Veterans Program which included unmounted programming with equines. Feedback to evaluate the success of the program has been collected from participants since June of 2019 and they have reported a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms. The Program Team says it is all due to the horses. “Our horses are easygoing and intelligent, and they want to interact with people. The horses themselves do much of the teaching when it comes to riding and handling and that, in itself, is calming,” said Carolyn Nelson, Veterans program manager and Marine Veteran. “We as veterans are used to being stoic and not showing our emotions. Horses pick up on our emotions and it’s that gentle understanding that the horses show which encourages a restorative experience.”
Any Veteran interested in learning more about the program is asked to contact Carolyn Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SUNY Cobleskill Therapeutic Horsemanship Program has been serving individuals with special needs and Veterans for over 20 years. The program was expanded in 2016 to include a Bachelor’s in Technology (BT) degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship where students participate in experiential learning and assist in providing Equine Assisted Services to individuals with disabilities on campus and in the surrounding community. Coursework includes a unique mix of animal science, psychology, early childhood education, and physical education and recreation classes.