Heroes and Horses helps vets, wild mustangs heal old wounds (video)
How are you spending your summer vacation? For Steve Stalzer, his lazy days of summer will be anything but lazy, he’ll be volunteering for a week with a group of eight combat veterans riding adopted wild mustangs at a working cattle ranch along the Montana-Wyoming boarder for Heroes and Horses.
Heroes and Horses is a Montana-based nonprofit organization that has created an innovative reintegration program for combat veterans suffering from PTSD. The program uses the remote wilderness combined with horses to challenge and inspire personal growth for veterans with mental and physical scars from combat. The goal of the program is to help veterans, as well as the wild mustangs, heal old wounds and discover new purpose.
“A friend sent me a five minute film that Yeti created to describe the mission and reason the program has been so successful. When I heard that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and that this program was making an impact, I called the crew at Heroes and Horses and asked how I could help,” said Stalzer, who is not a veteran, but understands that the transition from intense combat to coming home and struggling to find purpose after military service must be incredibly hard.
Heroes and Horses is one of the most intense programs of its kind. The program is designed to create challenge by combing 40 days of intense riding on recently adopted wild mustangs in some of the most unforgiving mountains in Montana. “The interactions with horses and overcoming environmental challenges helps inspire guys to look inside and rediscover a new purpose for moving forward after military service,” Stalzer said.
Stalzer, who is one of the founders of Axis Sports Medicine, worked with kids with physical disabilities at Camp Courage in Minnesota. “That was the first time I saw how much the interaction of a horse can impact a person,” Stalzer said. “I spent 60 days riding with kids. Watching the changes that took place through those experiences was amazing.”
In addition to volunteering his time, Steve’s goal is to raise $14,700, which is the cost for one participant to attend the full program. He will be hosting a fundraiser with 10th Mountain Whiskey in Vail on Wednesday, June 13th. The event will include food, drinks, and a showing of the Yeti short film “One Eighty Out.”
If would like to help, go to http://www.eventbrite.com and search for Whiskey for Warriors. Or donate at http://www.heroesandhorses.org. Be sure to write “Vail” or “Steve” or “10th Mountain Whiskey” in the comments as Stalzer is matching a percentage of all donations.
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.