First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
First Lady Announces New Program for Veterans, Grant for Therapeutic Riding Center
LEXINGTON, Ky. – First Lady Jane Beshear announced today a new therapeutic riding pilot program called “Horses for Heroes,” which will be supported in part by a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (CKRH). Horses for Heroes, which focuses on providing therapeutic riding and equine-assisted services to military veterans, will be organized in collaboration with CKRH and the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“The Horses for Heroes program and the new space for CKRH are two more examples of how Kentucky is the “Horse Capital of the World,” said Mrs. Beshear. “I’m proud these additions will be part of the Commonwealth’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games legacy.”
Studies have shown significant rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in veterans following combat. One report found that one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffers from PTSD or major depression. According to the “Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Experiential Therapy” clinical trial, participants in equine therapy treatment have reported considerable reduction in psychological distress and enhancements in wellbeing.
Horses for Heroes seeks to improve the quality of life for veterans by providing support from other veterans and from licensed mental health professionals, all in an equine-centered environment. The program has been successfully implemented in other states.
AT&T is providing $6,000 in funding for this pilot program, and Elizabeth Shatner, wife of actor William Shatner, is helping promote the initiative. The Horses for Heroes pilot will begin in early November with four veterans. Participants will be referred to the program by the Lexington VA Medical Center, which is providing on-site staff for the soldiers and monitoring the program’s effectiveness.
In addition, Mrs. Beshear presented a $500,000 CDBG to complete a state-of-the-art facility at the Kentucky Horse Park for indoor therapeutic riding. The funding will finish the final phase of a new indoor arena for CKRH, a 30-year-old nonprofit that provides therapeutic riding for children and adults with disabilities.
“We have served thousands of clients using an outdoor riding location, but we were severely limited in our programming because we could not operate in bad weather,” said Pat Kline, executive director of CKRH. “The generosity of our community through private donors, local companies, charitable foundations and state assistance now enables us to provide services all year long and form a number of community collaborations with local organizations and schools.”
The funding will complete the building’s front wing, which will house a therapy room; conference and education center; classrooms and meeting rooms; as well as an observation area for the indoor riding ring so that parents and friends can watch the progress of students in the classes.
The state’s CDBG program is administered by the Department for Local Government and funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Kentucky’s Congressional leaders’ ongoing support of the CDBG program ensures the availability of continued funding in Kentucky and nationally.
For more information about Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, please visit www.ckrh.org.