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Horses Spirits Healing strives to help veterans with mental health issues

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Yellowstone County, Montana – Horses Spirits Healing is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2016 north of Billings with the purpose of assisting veterans in any way possible.

“Everyone I meet and see I say: if you get a chance, come on out here,” Newell Schaub said on Friday, an Army veteran who has been in the program since March.

The program is designed to assist veterans who are experiencing mental or physical health issues.

“People can get such a huge benefit from being with horses. It’s great for your mental health, it helps reduce stress levels, just being around the horses increases people’s dopamine levels. Riding can also have a great impact as far as physical health helping people build muscles, core strength,” Amanda Ott said, a lead trainer.

The program collaborates with the Veterans Administration and has recorded 1,800 veteran sessions in the past year. It strives to be inclusive, with participation open to veterans and their families of all genders, ages, and abilities.

“To see these veterans come, and they come sometimes in slumped shoulders and pretty unhappy, and then at the end of the day see them walk away standing straight up and saying, ‘so, when can we come back?’” the co-founder of Horses Spirits Healing, Barb Skelton, said.

Schaub served in the Army for 21 years and has been diagnosed with mental illness. He has been volunteering, riding horses, and engaging with the staff five days a week since joining the program in March.

“You can’t find a better place like this. If you need a little help it is great. Like I said, you can’t say enough about them,” Schaub said.

Over 300 veterans and their families have benefited from the program since it began.

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