Horses Change the Lives of Veterans. Every Day. 

Kristen Vallejo Photography

BY Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship

Located in Bedford, New York, Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship is a leader in the field of equine assisted services for Veterans. Out of 800 equine therapy centers across the country, Endeavor is the only center that is both a PATH International Premiere Accredited Center and an Eagala Military Designated Center.

Each year, over 300 Veterans participate in programs at Endeavor. Laurie Ciaviardini, Endeavor’s Veteran Manager and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, shares that “the horses at Endeavor are the best therapists I have ever met.”

For nearly 3 years I have been working with Goliath, a very special horse at Endeavor. Each Friday, I eagerly take the short drive from my home to the ranch. My week wouldn’t be complete without the 45 minutes I spend on the ranch each week. It’s like an escape from the rigors of day-to-day life and a time that I can simply focus on myself and healing.

I reached out to Endeavor after experiencing [an introduction to] equine therapy at the ranch during a residential program at the Montrose Veterans Hospital. The program was so impactful that I knew I needed to add it to my arsenal of tools. These tools I speak of are “tools” I’ve acquired that help me better deal with symptoms of combat related PTSD. Many times, I’ve expressed my equine therapist the sense of peace and calm I feel as soon as I get onto Endeavor’s property.

For me, that sense of peace and calm is hard to mimic anywhere else. On weeks that I can’t make it up to the ranch it feels as if something is missing. But, sometimes just envisioning myself at the ranch with Goliath is enough to ground myself if my symptoms are elevated.

In my opinion, the services provided to Veterans at Endeavor are life-changing and lifesaving. If more Veterans were able to experience what I have and work side by side with horses like Goliath, they would realize the unique connection between horse and human.”

– T.D. Mendez

Kristen Vallejo Photography

With an educated team of equine specialists and mental health workers with decades of experience working with Veterans, Endeavor creates an environment that is both mentally and physically safe. These designations stress the importance in quality and safety standards to provide a program that is as beneficial as possible for our veterans. Endeavor offers all programs to veterans free of charge.

The equine partners that actively work in these sessions are identified, trained, and thrive in this field of work. Similarly, to when a horse knows that they are in a competition, the horses here know when they are going into work. They are cued into their human partner, appropriately reactive to mirror the energy and body language of the client and have the uncanny ability to be a new trusted friend to the servicemen and servicewomen.

Most of us that have been fortunate enough to work with horses through our lives know intrinsically that being around horses makes us feel better. It slows our busy minds; it helps us be present; and we can share our deepest worries with a confidant – often without using any words. People feel better just being near these powerful animals. And this horse-human relationship is key to the equine-assisted activities at Endeavor.

Another veteran at Endeavor, John, shares, “I was introduced to the horse, Pelusa, last year as part of my treatment for PTSD at Endeavor. Pelusa’s eyes say it all! When I’m looking into her eyes my thoughts stop and I become one with her. When I walk Pelusa, or care for her, it’s the best part of my week.”

Veterans that are at an acute phase of their health journey or veterans that utilize equine assisted activities as part of their daily healthy living plan can both thrive at Endeavor. While Endeavor also thrives with thanks to the veterans that show up to volunteer in lessons, help around the farm, and advocate for better health for their fellow service members.

Kristen Vallejo Photography

Endeavor relies on our supportive community. Are you curious on how to get involved with Endeavor (or a program like this) – here are some helpful tips:

  • Is there a therapeutic horsemanship farm in your area? A quick google search will tell you! All therapeutic horsemanship centers rely heavily on volunteers and a volunteer with horse knowledge is a home run. 
  • Is your horse looking for their next career? This is a great job for horses that like people, like to work, and have a purpose. While this job can be stressful for horses, it also comes with endless amounts of love, positivity, and gratitude. 
  • Other donations like tack, equipment, barn supplies and office supplies also make an impact.
  • Looking to make an end of year donation? Therapeutic Horsemanship Centers are typically not-for-profit organizations that rely on donations to provide their services.

Are you a veteran and interested in program at Endeavor?

  • Contact Laurie Ciaviardini at laurie.ciavardini@endeavorth.org or 914-241-0211 or visit www.endeavorth.org
  • Veteran programs at Endeavor include virtual program, weekly farm sessions, female veteran weekend retreats, and veteran family days throughout the year
  • All programs are offered free of charge

More About Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, LLC

Endeavor is in Bedford Corners, New York and is a not-for-profit organization. With a mission to empower individuals with a broad range of needs by providing the highest quality equine assisted services in an inclusive and welcoming environment. Endeavor offers programs for veterans and active-duty military, incarcerated women, at risk youth, and children and adults with disabilities through recreational, clinical, and educational programs.