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      Program pairs horses with veterans

      The PEACE Ranch signed a contract with the Veterans Administration to provide group therapy for veterans paired with horses.

      â??I think that the horses as they go through the rehabilitation process here they have something to give back. They know what it's like to be rejected, neglected, abused, battered, broken, failing. We have performance horses that just failed at what they were doing and so somehow there seems to be a connection there,â?? said Jackie Kaschel, PEACE Ranch Executive Director.

      A pilot program was held last fall and was praised by veterans.

      â??They loved being here. There was something about being with the animals that they said felt very peaceful to them. They felt safe here and of course if you're going to talk about things that are difficult and work through difficult things you have to feel safe; you have to feel peaceful.â??

      The contract with the Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration was recently signed. A social worker from the VA will work with veterans who suffer from chronic post traumatic stress disorder, among other issues.

      â??The horses become a living metaphor for things that have happened in lifeâ?| we allow clients to project their inner realities out in a safe arena on the horses which gives them a safe and manageable way to deal with the things that they're struggling with.â??

      90 year old Erwin Sporte volunteers at the ranch and says the horses that come from troubled backgrounds will help veterans.

      â??I think it would help them just to get their mind off themselves and to be able to help these horses that have been abused, maltreated... and I think if the veterans see that that they can work with the horses it's going to give them confidence in themselves,â?? said Sporte.

      Kaschel is hoping support from the community makes this a successful program.

      â??Our community is a very generous community and I know they want to support our vets and so this is a way that we can all work together toward the same goal and that's to honor our veterans and let them know they have a mission for the future here in the United States,â?? said Kaschel.

      Two groups have already signed up for the session which will last anywhere from four to eight weeks.