EFMP visits MSU Extension Equestrian Camp

Avery, son of Lt. Col. Erin Knightner, 14th Medical Group Chief Nurse, pets a miniature pony June 30, 2017, at the Elizabeth A. Howard 4-H Arena in West Point, Mississippi. The horses at the arena are very calm and are gentle enough for small children to pet, brush and ride them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

Avery, son of Lt. Col. Erin Knightner, 14th Medical Group Chief Nurse, pets a miniature pony June 30, 2017, at the Elizabeth A. Howard 4-H Arena in West Point, Mississippi. The horses at the arena are very calm and are gentle enough for small children to pet, brush and ride them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Beaux Hebert)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The bond between humans and horses can be traced back thousands of years.

Horses have helped carry the load of building America, transported Americans from place to place and even served in wars. It’s no wonder why many people use them as a way to heal.

The 14th Force Support Squadron and the Mississippi State University Extension’s Equine Assisted Therapy Program helped members of the Exceptional Family Member Program connect with horses June 30, 2017, at the Elizabeth A Howard 4-H arena in West Point, Mississippi.

”Our program is designed to help rehabilitate people who have become or are disabled,” said Lori Irvin, Extension Associate II. “It’s amazing to watch people bond with the horses and in the process heal from it.”

Before the day’s events began, Cassi Brunson, Extension Associate, gave the attendees a quick safety brief of what not to do around a horse.

“Safety is a big thing when it comes to children and horses,” Brunson said. “These horses are very tame but they are still capable of doing harm.”

After the briefing, the attendees were split into two stations.

The first station was grooming. The children were taught how to brush and clean the horses before they rode them.

The second station was actually riding the horse. Children rode in a closed arena, with assistance from program volunteers standing next to them to catch them if they fell.

The looks on the faces of the children when they were put on top of the horses gave a sense they were overwhelmed yet calm and relaxed.

“The kids, parents and even the program managers had a great time,” said Jamey Coleman, 14th FSS Community Readiness Specialist. “It was very therapeutic for the families and everyone left with big smiles.”

It’s this feeling that many say makes horses one of human’s best animal friends.