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Boulder Crest Retreat, a free therapeutic retreat for combat veterans, includes equine therapy in their program

BLUEMONT, Virginia – (April 4, 2016) –Winston Churchill once noted, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” This idea – that horses have the power to lift our spirits, make us feel loved, and create a sense of internal peace – is well known to many people across this country. What many people may not realize is that horses can play a critical role in empowering veterans to make the journey all the way home from war, and begin walking a new path – full of passion, purpose and service – here at home. There are remarkable programs all across the country leveraging horses healing abilities, and a range of other animals, to support our nation’s combat veterans.

“Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (HIGH) is an important part of every program we run in support of combat veterans and their families,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat. “Within just a few minutes of being around the horses, and working with our team, we see a tremendous difference. Faces light up, burdens wash away, and smiles reappear. There is something profound and deeply special about the manner in which horses work with those who are struggling – they have an internal recognition of exactly what each person needs.”

There have been numerous studies supporting the idea that equine therapy helps those who are struggling, and a recent study published in Biology Letters demonstrated that horses have the ability to recognize human emotions and facial expressions.

Recently, in the January 2016 issue of the journal Social Work, researchers reported that nearly half of all combat veterans suffer from serious psychological disorders and reintegration issues. They report that equine-facilitated mental health programs have demonstrated promise in treating veterans with (PTSD) depressive and anxiety disorders, as well as reintegration issues.

At Boulder Crest Retreat, combat veterans engage in an equine therapy program in addition to the other progressive therapeutic activities that make up the program. The retreat offers combat veterans and their families the opportunity to stay for a week at the 37-acre retreat, where they can engage in a full treatment plan. The equine therapy program is facilitated by Suzi Landolphi, who has a master’s degree in clinical and community psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is also the author of two books, and has created a program offering Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (HIGH) and Horse Inspired Psychotherapy (HIP), which utilizes horses to:

  • Encourage. Horse therapy encourages veterans and their family members to feel safe enough to reconnect their mind and their heart, and express themselves.

  • Connect. It allows veterans and their family members to better connect with themselves and their loved ones.

  • Renew. Help veterans move through their fears, let go of traumatic experiences, begin to feel a sense of calm and peace, and live in the present.

“Because most of us have experienced hurt from humans, whether in combat or at home, we shy away from expressing how we are feeling to fellow humans,” explains Landolphi. “Horses walk right though our emotional defenses and encourage us to be open hearted and open minded to a more authentic way of living, first, with ourselves, and then with the members of our human herd.”

Boulder Crest Retreat utilizes a range of age-old and evidence-based modalities designed to offer greater clarity, increase connection and facilitate growth and healing. In addition to equine therapy, the Retreat offers art, music, meditation, yoga, kayaking, hiking, horticultural, nutrition, and culinary programs. Delivered by a combination of trained combat veteran mentors and world-class therapists, these tools enable combat veterans and their families to transform struggle into strength, and begin living a great life here at home.

The Retreat welcomes wounded active-duty, reserve and National Guard personnel, veterans, their family members and caregivers, and Gold Star Families. Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org. View a video about the Boulder Crest Retreat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztgmScOQLw.


Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctuary that provides free accommodations, recreational and therapeutic activities and programs to help our nation’s military and veteran personnel and their families recover and reconnect during their long journey of healing from physical and invisible wounds of war. The 37-acre retreat is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, Virginia, just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is entirely funded through private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit www.bouldercrestretreat.org.

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