Hooves & Heroes is a WA non-profit Corporation and Federal 501(c)(3) Non-Profit with a mission to provide supportive services to Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Dispatchers, EMTs, Nurses, and others, primarily through equine facilitated programs and scholarships for mental health treatment and other needed services.
After the COVD-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 it became even more evident that the need for supportive services for our first responders, medical personnel and military was needed even more. This spurred our desire to make our "someday" dream a "today" reality. Here is the data that drives our mission:
· More than 80% of first responders experience traumatic events on the job (1)
· 1 in 3 first responders develop PTSD
· Having both EMS and firefighting duties was associated with a sixfold increase in the likelihood of reporting a suicide attempt as compared to firefighting alone (2)
· Nurses and other frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced an increase in PTSD, anxiety and depression of upwards of 67% to 77% (3)
· Law Enforcement has a 9 to 10 times greater prevalence of PTSD than the general population (4)
· Suicide accounts for 49% of law enforcement deaths from all causes except COVID-19. This death rate is two and a half times the rate of all job-related deaths. (alleaps.org)
· A large percentage of law enforcement are military Veterans.
· At least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have PTSD and/or Depression.
· 50% of Veterans with PTSD do not seek treatment
· Although the rate of Veteran and First Responder suicide was down in 2020 for the first time in many years (since 2001, based on the “2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report”), it is still the second leading cause of death among Veterans under the age of 45, and still accounts for half of law enforcement deaths.
Veteran participation in equine-related activities results in “…reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, reduced PTSD symptoms, elevated self-esteem and self-awareness, improved communication and trust, and increased overall well-being.” (5)
Many Veterans and First Responders avoid seeking formalized treatment due to stigma or mistrust, and of those who do participate, a large percentage of participants show marginal improvement in symptoms, drop out of treatment before it is completed, and do not have long-term positive results (6). However, those who participate in equine-based programs have a higher participation and completion rate, statistically significant outcomes, and sustained results long after completion of the program (7).
Simply spending time with horses outside of a structured therapeutic session can have immediate and marked impact on the individual who is interacting with the horse as well as those who share the experience with the person of focus for that session.
Horses have the ability to teach all of us how to exist in a herd, how to identify and regulate our emotions, how to ask for what we need and maintain our boundaries without imposing on the needs and boundaries of others, and so much more!
1. Klimley, Van Hasselt, & Stripling. 2018. Posttraumatic stress disorder in police, firefighters, and emergency dispatchers. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.08.005
2. Stanley, Hom, & Joiner. 2016. A systematic review of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics.
3. Vizheh, et.al. 2020. The mental health of healthcare workers in the COVD-19 pandemic: A systematic review. Doi:10.1007/s40200-020-00643-9
4. Lilly & Curry. 2020. Survey: What is the state of officer mental health in 2020? https://www.police1.com/health-wellness/articles/survey-what-is-the-state-of-officer-mental-health-in-2020
5. Romaniuk, Evans, & Kidd. 2018. Evaluation of an equine-assisted therapy program for veterans who identify as ‘wounded, inured or ill’ and their partners. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203943
6. Fisher, et.al. 2021. Equine-Assisted Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Military Veterans: An Open Trial. Doi:10.4088/JCP.21m14005
7. Shelef, et.al. 2019. Equine Assisted therapy for Patients with post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series Study. Doi: 10.1093/milmed/usz036.