On April 23rd I was privileged to represent the Quilts of Valor community and present quilts to the Rainier Therapeutic Riders at Yelm Washington.
Rainier Therapeutic Riding provides basic horsemanship lessons to injured military personnel at 3 arenas in the Yelm, WA area. They have operated for nearly 2 years and are already the largest provider of equine therapy to military personnel in the country. They are currently serving 48 soldiers weekly, and have over 50 active volunteers and 3 certified instructors, along with 14 privately owned/leased horses.
They work directly with medical military personnel attached to the Army Warrior Transition Battalion and Air Force Medical Flight at Joint Base Lewis McChord to select active duty soldiers suffering from Suicidal tendencies, Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as a host of other injuries. These soldiers come to them from a very dark mental place, and the relationship they build with “their” horse leads them back to a joy for living. “We get to see the “spark” come back into their eyes as well as the smiles on their faces. Without that “spark”, their future will be very bleak.”
My experience at the Serenity Farms was nothing less that breathtaking. It is a beautiful facility generously donated to facilitate this healing program. To witness the change in these warriors and to hear their stories of recovery was certainly humbling.
One of the exercises I witnessed was designed to build trust and confidence. The rider had to take command and teach the horse who was in charge. The instructor told the rider “You are worth following.” Those were small words with huge impact. It was a delight to watch the faces light up as they realized that they were indeed valuable and “worth following”.
Thank you to those of you who helped to make this presentation possible. Your quilts were a tangible gift and reminder that these warriors are appreciated and that their personal sacrifices are acknowledged and valued. You also helped to remind them yes indeed they are worth following.