Charles Kenyon: How horses can bring respite to the traumatised

Our columnist on how HorseBack UK brings benefits to former military personnel

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

HorseBack UK is a one of those smaller charities that does brilliant work through the simplest of associations – brain and body-injured people regain their lives loving horses in a safe place. The people are mostly service personnel and the 30-odd horses are chosen for their strength, intelligence and calm temperaments. The centre is located in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, and the staff include people who have served and been injured themselves.

I came across Horseback UK at a 16 Regiment Royal Artillery reunion in Scunthorpe, bidding in an auction for a bottle of whisky. It was presented by another former gunner, now a charity fundraiser for Horseback UK.

Many traumatised service personnel returning home lose their confidence to cope, either as a putative "wounded hero" or as an outwardly fit person hiding awful scars. Confidence can come only with being accepted for who you are, not by trying to live to others' expectations.

Horses won't judge. They will nuzzle and rub and walk with you and put you on their backs to raise you to that height where you are looking forward and up, rather than down and looking behind. The courses run by Horseback UK can restore confidence, self-respect and a sense of purpose to those who have suffered life-changing injuries.

It has been going for six years and helped more than 350 people. Help for Heroes and other service charities support it. Google its video and please support it too during 2017.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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