Bryant Turnage served in the U.S. Army for 5 years. After being diagnosed with PTSD, he joined a horsemanship program at Oklahoma Baptist University. When that program shut down, his psychiatrist recommended finding another horsemanship program in light of the improvement he had already observed in Bryant.
That search brought Bryant to The Right Path’s Hooves on the Ground program for veterans and first responders. Before long, he had a unique bonding experience with Okie, a draft cross horse who is blind in one eye.
During a riding lesson, Okie was spooked by the sound of an ATV starting behind him in his blind spot. The sudden noise also triggered Bryant’s PTSD. However, after a tense moment of fear, horse and rider both realized it wasn’t something truly dangerous. In unison, they exhaled and relaxed.
That moment taught them that they could trust each other even with their shared traumatic backgrounds. Okie knows he can rely on Bryant for extra guidance to compensate for his blind eye. Bryant knows Okie is a safe place to process and heal.
Bryant states, “Horses are a complement to what my doctor is doing. They push me to grow mentally and get in better shape physically. They provide an avenue for me to process what’s going on in my head, and they never judge me for it (unless I don’t have a treat or grooming for them).
Thanks to Hooves on the Ground, I have a better mood, reduced the medications I take, more flexibility, improved health, and lost almost 100 pounds. I wouldn’t be as well off as I am today if I didn’t have horses!”