USU instructors use horses to help veterans suffering with PTSD

Feb 12, 2023, 10:50 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 10:19 am

CACHE COUNTY, Utah — Some instructors at Utah State University are helping veterans through tough times with the help of horses.

There are sometimes events in life that cause people to withdraw. At times it may take a careful touch that humans cannot replicate to rebuild trust.

“It’s just a really lovely way to connect with the horse,” said Brian Kartchner, a veteran who is a part of the program.

And for some veterans, like Eileen White, know that feeling.

“Horses, they live in the moment,” White said.

Eileen White with horse Sven. (KSL-TV’s Mike Anderson)

White is an Air Force veteran who started working with horses several years ago.

“Something happens when you work with these horses that brings the therapy along much much faster,” she said.

Moments like these with Sven, a Norwegian Fjord, can seem almost magical.

“They’re a mirror of your reflections of what you’re going through at that time in your life,” White said.

All reasons why these equine-assisted services are offered at USU and are free to veterans through the Veteran’s Administration.

“By creating this space that is safe, and making space for that, a lot of amazing things happen for them,” explained Judy Smith, Director of USU’s Equine-Human Science program. “We are working very hard to elevate the science behind it, and the dynamic of the horse connection has really become very special.”

In fact, she is studying that connection and sharing findings with the VA, which could lead to more programs like this around the country. And very recently, USU opened up a new, professional-showman-level arena where that critical work can be done.

A group of veterans with their horses for the day. (KSL-TV’s Mike Anderson)

The new arena was named after Robert A. Adams, a USU alumnus who was a Vietnam veteran and lost his battle with PTSD. Adams was one of the founding members of this very program.

“I’d come home, and I’d just be happy. I’d be relaxed because it was just such a relaxing fun environment to get into,” Kartchner said.

Kartchner is another example of the program working. He served a tour in Iraq with the Army. He came here at first to find something he was missing.

“It really brings back that sense of purpose and that sense of comradery in a really great environment in a great way that just really builds who you are,” he expressed.

Veterans like Kartchner and White can serve as mentors to newcomers to the program. White is also seeking a certification, so she can continue to help others by working in a similar program.

“It helps build that partnership (and) helps build confidence in the individual,” White said.

She and the others insist that while that connection may seem magical, there is a clear science behind why it works.

“They’re very intuitive animals,” White expressed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Exibit shows Utah's air was a concern as far back as the 1880s....
Jed Boal

Exhibit: Concerns about Utah’s air quality go back to Brigham Young

An online exhibit details Utah’s unique air pollution problem going back to the 1880s when Utahns referred to the winter pollution as “smoke evil” or the “smoke nuisance”. 
1 day ago
Bags of small pills are lined up....
Mike Anderson

Fentanyl use on the rise in Box Elder County

Police in Box Elder County say fentanyl is hitting their community hard as overdoses and deaths have gone up in recent months.
1 day ago
Global Pharma Healthcare recalled Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, distributed by EzriCare and...
Janelle Chavez

Two additional deaths linked to bacteria in recalled eye drops, CDC says

A rare strain of bacteria found in recalled eye drops has been linked to dozens of infections, as well as cases of vision loss and surgical removal of eyes.
1 day ago
Associated Press

Oklahoma court OK’s abortion to preserve mother’s life

A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a portion of the state’s near total ban on abortion, ruling women have a right to abortion when pregnancy risks their health, not just in a medical emergency.
2 days ago
Leukocytoclastic vasculitis, an inflammatory reaction in the blood vessels, is shown. It's also kno...
Monica Fish, Wealth of Geeks via AP

Don’t let the dreaded ‘Disney rash’ derail your vacation: Experts explain what it is, how to avoid it

What happens when Americans visit a Disney theme park and take 20,000 steps or more a day in hot, humid weather? Many get "Disney rash."
2 days ago
Jason Peck with his sons...
Ayanna Likens

How an outpatient program helped Salt Lake man overcome substance abuse

A Salt Lake man is sharing his story of overcoming opioid use and how Intermountain Health's outpatient program helped him.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
USU instructors use horses to help veterans suffering with PTSD