Horse ride raises veteran suicide awareness, benefits of equine-therapy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A national organization raising awareness about the high rate of veteran suicide took its message to the Kentucky Horse Park Friday.

It’s the second time ‘Brave Heart’ has hosted the “Trail to Zero” ride, where veterans and supporters ride 20 miles to commemorate the 20 veterans who take their lives each day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

One marine says the organization saved his life.

“You look into those eyes and it’s the window – it’s the window to the soul,” Marshall Wolfe said.

Wolfe said soul-gazing was the last thing on his mind about two years ago because he wasn’t ready to face his truth.

“I drank and did drugs to escape and I thought no one knew because I’d been doing it for so long,” Wolfe said.

He said he didn’t realize how he was affecting others, or himself. He just knew he needed to cope after serving in the Marine Corps from ’81 to ’89.

He turned to the bottle for 40 years.

“With the military and everything, your life changes, like everybody’s does, and we get lost when we come back,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe found the answer he needed in Brave Heart. He said the connection he feels with the horses is like no other.

“The horse matches our heartbeat,” Wolfe said. “They teach us to breathe and come back to that center place.”

“That’s the catalyst for all this great healing,” Brave Heart President and COO Meggan Hill-McQueeney said. “The horses just brings everybody together.”

Hill-McQueeney said horses are very intuitive.

“Horses just have an amazing way of knowing whether individuals are dealing with physical, mental or cognitive issues. Horses are extremely therapeutic.”

She wants veterans to know they aren’t alone…and to give equine-therapy a chance.

“A lot of time people come to Brave Hearts – veterans come to Brave Hearts – they say that they come to us because nothing else worked,” Hill-McQueeney said. “We don’t want horses to be the last stop.”

That’s because just like Wolfe’s story, the last stop can be the best.

“We can look at each other and be there for each other and just know, whether we say a work or not – just like with the horse,” Wolfe said.

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