Recovering Service Members and Veterans Program

Proudly providing equine-assisted services to military personnel.

Cloverleaf Equine Center offers special sessions for recovering military personnel and veterans. Our sessions combine therapeutic riding and equine-assisted learning, while focusing on relationship building between the participants and the horses. Horses are non-judgemental partners who thrive on positive teamwork and relationships – this low pressure environment encourages individuals to transition into this new situation with the skills needed to create positive bonds with humans and horses.

With the help of our generous donors, Cloverleaf is able to provide this program free of charge to military participants.

Our Timeline

2014

Formal program for recovering service members and veterans begins thanks to a referral from the USO at Fort Belvoir.

2019

Number of sessions offered begins growing steadily. 304 sessions for recovering service members and veterans were completed.

2020

Surge in number of service members and veterans self-referring since the onset of COVID. 340 sessions are projected despite a total shutdown for three months due to COVID.

2021

Over 650 sessions are projected, a 115% increase from 2019.

Why equine-assisted services work for service members

A rapidly growing body of evidence supports the effectiveness of equine-assisted services helping military personnel and veterans restore their confidence at their own pace.

Military Services-Equine assisted services for Service Members
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Hypervigilance

Horses are animals of prey. Much like recovering service members recovering from PTSD, they are hypervigilant. Trust must be earned.

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Intune with Emotions

Horses are extremely intuitive. Clients must come from a calm and controlled space in order to successfully work with a horse.

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Honesty

Horses provide honest, non-judgemental feedback to every client. This dynamic of trust and honesty allows veterans to let their guard down and be authentic.

Dionne, United States Navy Veteran

“…the sessions [at Cloverleaf] incorporate the issues I have with anxiety, depression and being around new people… it really shows me the vibe I am giving off. I think I’m saying, ‘Hi, it’s nice to meet you’ and then the horse doesn’t want to come next to me. I recognize that I really need to work on what’s inside”.