Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program
The Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving Veterans and Horses a new lease on life! We support Therapeutic Riding Facilities and Horse Rescue farms across the United States, providing rehabilitative services to Veterans of all Services. To us, Wounded Warriors are all those who have served in the military, as well as the horses who have served along side us through the centuries.
This nationwide network of therapeutic riding program providers and horse rescues was founded in 2010 by Bridget Kroger, LTC US Army (Retired). Bridget is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, a 24-year veteran of the United States Army and a life-long equestrian. Having completed two tours in Iraq, she too is a Wounded Warrior.
Equine-assisted therapies were extremely instrumental in Bridget’s PSTD recovery process. Her belief that all Wounded Warriors need the experience of these age-old healing practices led her to institutionalize a program and coordinate a team of medical professionals, horse professionals, military professionals and farm operators across the U.S. to deliver equine-assisted therapies to veterans and service members.
“As an active duty Navy photojournalist with 13 years and 5 deployments under my belt, I’ve struggled with a range of behavioral issues stemming from combat-related anxiety, depression, social anxiety and coping with unfamiliar emotions felt during very rare moments overseas. My obligations to my service, which I love and have felt honored to be a part of, pulled me away from my family, including my 4-year old twins Zoe and Sebastian when they were only 6 months old. I was able to see them roughly every 6 months for just a couple weeks and watched them essentially take their first steps, say their first words and nearly all other “firsts” over the Internet. It wasn’t until February of this year, that God blessed me with a miracle – a reassignment to Houston. A place not common to Navy service members thanks to it’s distance from the ocean and a job the Navy only places one person every few years to accomplish. Having been gone for so long, finding my footing as a full-time father has been a challenge. During the past few years, I’ve been blessed to find people in my travels who have owned horses. These people turned me toward horse therapy, which in itself, changed my life. Horses are unique creatures that are loving and kind but react to how you interact with them. They seem to read you and ask that you do the same, so they know when you are sad or anxious. The union becomes a bonding experience that has helped me better understand both daily situations and past experiences as well as my emotions. I knew riding and generally being around horses was something I wanted to share with my children and, luckily, Henry’s Home Horse and Human Sanctuary was there help. By freely allowing my children and I to interact, ride and just be around their horses, my high-energy children have become more aware of their surroundings, trust each other more and listen better. After just one visit, my family has bonded more and our connection continuous to grow. We look forward to our next visit and plan to continue this tradition every week.
For me, finding a hobby that serves as both therapy and a unique learning experience for my children seemed like an impossibility. Almost as impossible as bridging a 3.5 year gap between my children and myself. Each minute we spend with the horses, is a minute we learn about each other, understand one another better and continue to strengthen a bond I simply could not have forged had it not been for these amazing horses. For a person that is used to everything in his life having an expiration date thanks to a continuous and arduous deployment schedule, Henry’s Home Horse and Human Sanctuary has provided a permanent place to find lasting joy with family and for myself. I can’t thank them enough. And a special thanks to Jay and Shannon Novak for helping us enjoy our time with Henry and Tavi, as well as sharing their story and encouragement.”