This Was No Ordinary Ride: Equine Group Raises Awareness For Military Veterans, Suicide Prevention
The US Department of Veterans affairs reports that more than 78,000 veterans died by suicide between 2005 and 2017, and the numbers have been climbing since then. Recently, during National Suicide Prevention month, Bravehearts, an Illinois-based equine therapy group held a special event at the Kentucky Horse Park to raise awareness about the issue. WUKY Horse Capital reporter Samantha Lederman has the story.
If you were out at the Horse Park on that Friday you may well have spotted a procession of sorts: it was the KHP Mounted Unit escorting the Bravehearts horses and riders as they steadily clocked up 20 miles to complete their Trail to Zero. Trail to Zero is a 20 mile ride to raise awareness about suicide.
Angie Colella served in the USAF in Aghanistan and found Bravehearts three years ago after struggling with PTSD, depression and addiction for decades. Colella now volunteers at Bravehearts every week and rides on the all veteran Drill Team. Her connection to the horses has helped heal her better than any other therapy she had tried previously.
Similarly Dave Mould, a father of five who served in the US Marines from 1962 to ’65 found Bravehearts later and by chance, happening upon their booth while visiting the County Fair with his grandson. Like Colella, it has changed his life. Mould started as a volunteer, showing up at least three times a week. Now he is fully immersed in the veterans program, he also rides on the Drill Team and is preparing to become a certified PATH international riding instructor.
More than 20 veterans are lost to suicide every single day; hence the 20 miles. This will be the fifth such ride, after successful iterations in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago and Houston.
The horses and riders enjoyed a peaceful hack through prime Bluegrass horse farm country, and completed the 20 miles in just under 7 hours. The horses wore ribbons in their manes to commemorate their riders’ comrades, friends and loved ones lost to suicide.