Bond between veteran, stable owner forms new program

By Erika Mahoney

April 18, 2014 Updated Apr 18, 2014 at 12:04 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The gentle movement of a horse's stride and fresh air can be relaxing and therapeutic, making it a healing activity for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.

After years of helping children with special needs and disabilities, the owner of Stable Movement founded the program "Soldiers and Saddles."

"I have a brother who has PTSD," Pedroso said. "So that was a reason why I decided to really get the ball rolling on the program Soldiers and Saddles."

Another reason -- a Vietnam veteran, Tom Wiser, who stumbled upon her stable four years ago.

"I came up the hill here and I saw Theresa had horses here," Wiser said. "I stopped and said, 'do you need any help?'"

Wiser suffered a stroke from the chemical use of Agent Orange.
    
"He started with grooming and tacking," Pedroso said. "He would help with everyday horse needs. We have really seen a significant increase in his balance during walking."

Wiser found riding horses to be so fun he decided to buy a horse of his own.

"I like to run all over the place in here," Wiser said. "Up in the power lines, by myself. Let them go, eat grass when they want to. Look around, takes your mind off stuff."

Forgetting can be difficult for veterans, something Pedroso knows all to well.

"They [veterans] are always on the alert, looking for something to go off or happen. But here in the barn, it's a calm, relaxing place where they can learn, trust and explore it more."

In the program, the veterans will work with the animals to heal both physical and emotional disabilities.

The program officially began last year, and after a successful pilot class, Pedroso is hoping to expand the program. She is a licensed physical therapy assistant and works with various veterans organizations in the area to find candidates for the program. Mental health professionals will participate in all of the sessions.

Click here if you are interested in learning more about Soldiers and Saddles, or want to sign up.

If you want to donate to the program, a fundraiser will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. May 7 and May 21 at Lost Dog Café in Binghamton. All proceeds from the event, called Martinis and Manicures, will support the program.

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