EquiCenter Helping Veterans

EquiCenter Helping Veterans

The equestrian center offers therapeutic activites for veterans coming home.

Tucked away in the fields of Mendon, you'll find EquiCenter.

The equestrian center offers therapeutic activities for veterans coming home.

"When I first came home, I thought I had everything under wraps. Everything seemed to be flowing okay. Then, some of my peers ended up saying Lyndon has changed since the war, and I didn't really know what that meant," said Lyndon Villone, a war veteran.

Lyndon Villone served as a Marine for two tours in Iraq. When he came home, his service dog, Ice, helped him through his struggles...so did the EquiCenter.

"It gets you out of bed. It stops you from staring at the paint on the walls. That's what I say. When I'm in my bedroom staring at the paint on the walls, I did that for a long time, horses help you get up and get out," said Villone.

So why horses? For starters, they help soldiers who have physical injuries.

"Their pelvis moves three-dimensionally. Front to back and side to side, just like yours and mine, and in terms of physical therapy, their movement recreates the human gate more than anything else," said Jonathan Friedlander, CEO of EquiCenter.

Therapeutic horseback riding has a wide range of benefits for these veterans. On top of the physical aspect, the activities help with their less visible wounds, like PTSD and TBI.

"There's a bonding. There's that immediate sensitivity. There's relationship building, trust, there's building self-confidence," said Friedlander.

At the EquiCenter, each veteran has an instructor and a specific lesson plan.

"Every horse is different. Every horse is a different size, a different movement, and the individuals are matched very carefully to their needs," said Friedlander.

Lyndon has been with his horse, Harley, since the beginning.

"They help you re-engage. They don't judge you. You can come here on a good day, bad day and kind of get away from things. It's something to do," said Villone.

So what's next for Lyndon? He hopes to open a therapeutic canine facility for veterans one day.

And as far as the EquiCenter, the organization has a pilot program in place for canine assistance therapy and soon horticultural therapy.

On Sunday, EquiCenter is having Military Family Day. It's a day where active duty soldiers, veterans and their families can take part in a variety of activities.

For more information, just go to http://www.equicenterny.org
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