'Purpose' Features New York Programs That Use Horses To Help Veterans

Horses that Heal: SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary Credits: America's Best Racing
When Horses Heal: Man O' War Project Credits: America's Best Racing

NEW YORK, N.Y. — SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary located in Montgomery, N.Y and Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center are featured in America’s Best Racing (ABR)’s “Purpose.”

Purpose is a three-part digital video docuseries exploring the anecdotal evidence and quest for scientific proof supporting the critical and effective role that horses play in addressing the epidemic of our veterans returning from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The series, which is presented by the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Earle I. Mack Foundation, examines the deep therapeutic connection between horse and human, with a particular focus on three distinct non-profit programs dedicated to serving our veterans through connections with horses, including retired Thoroughbreds. Part one focuses on SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary, part two features the Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and part three explores the unconventional and innovative Heroes and Horses program based in Montana.

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PTSD is a debilitating condition that can affect up to 30 percent of returning veterans. The numbers are equally startling and disturbing, as 20 veterans a day commit suicide and up to half of the veterans suffering from PTSD never receive treatment. While pharmacological and traditional therapies have long existed for treatment of PTSD, alternative approaches such as equine-assisted therapy are on the rise, and equine-assisted therapy could soon be scientifically proven to be the best therapy available for our veterans.

Part one of the series, which can be viewed at, as well as on America’s Best Racing’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and, focuses on the program at SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary located in Montgomery, N.Y.

Nestled along the Hudson River in upstate New York, SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary offers an equine-assisted psychotherapy program for veterans and their families. Through interaction with horses, including retired Thoroughbred racehorses, veterans learn healthy coping skills, effective communication, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. These skills allow the healing to begin. The SquirrelWood horses that have undergone healing themselves provide support for veterans who are just starting their journey.

“Our commitment to deeper storytelling through ABR Films amplifies our messaging to a diverse audience while, in this case, provoking the audience to view our sport and our retired equine athletes in a broader and positive context,” said Stephen B. Panus, president of TJC Media Ventures. “We’re hopeful that this docuseries raises awareness of the role that equine-assisted therapy can play in helping our proud veterans re-acclimate from combat back into civilian life, as well as for the powerful role and purpose that retired Thoroughbreds can play in this alternative therapeutic treatment.”

“Given the statistics, we have to do more to help our brave veterans – they need more treatment options,” said Ambassador Earle Mack. “I believe equine therapy can play a major role. The Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center is honored to be a part of this docuseries that examines how horses can help veterans with PTSD.”

About America’s Best Racing:

America’s Best Racing is a multimedia fan-development and awareness-building platform, initiated by The Jockey Club, designed to increase the profile and visibility of North America’s best Thoroughbred racing events with a primary focus on the sport’s lifestyle and competition. You can follow America’s Best Racing at as well as on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat.

About Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center:

The Man O’ War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center is the first clinical research study to establish guidelines for the application of equine assisted therapy and to determine the effectiveness of equine assisted therapy in treating veterans with PTSD. To learn more, visit

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