In the Spring of 2016 Veterans R&R will be launching its EAGALA Certified Heroes Equine Leadership Program. The EAGALA Model is acknowledged by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs as the equine therapy of choice for treatment.


Why Horses

Although we support Cognitive Behavior Therapy (traditional talk therapy) it only works for 35% of Veterans…What about the other 65%?

The suicide rate for veterans is roughly double the rate of those who never served. The VA’s National Center for PTSD reports that as many as 20 percent of Iraqi and Enduring Freedom veterans and as many as 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

There is not a practicing EAGALA Military Certified Provider in the Midwest.

Heroes Equine Leadership Program (H.E.L.P) Goal: 

Connect Veterans and Active Duty with mental health and human development treatment options for PTSD, TBI, hyper vigilance, transition and  reintegration, deployment, military sexual trauma, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication.

Individual Leadership Overview

Sessions are facilitated by an Equine Specialist (ES), Mental Health Professional (MHP) Military Mentor (MM) and specially trained Therapy Horses. Veterans and Active Military are tasked with learning or relearning non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, responsibility, confidence, teamwork and relationships building.

Equine Growth & Learning Association Overview (EAGALA)

EAGALA sets the global standard for care. EAGALA is the world’s largest and most professionally respected association for Equine assisted psychotherapy. EAGALA has more than 4,000 members in 49 countries and has certified the professional staff of more than 600 treatment programs worldwide. Only licensed, certified professionals who make up the EAGALA Network are authorized to offer the exclusive EAGALA Model of Equine assisted psychotherapy to their clients.

EAGALA Military Services

This is a designation which indicates the EAGALA Model certified professionals have specialized training and experience in the military community. The designation requires an annual renewal in which providers must complete continuing education each year to remain abreast of current military lifestyle and issues.

EAGALA Military Services sets a high standard of excellence – respecting the cultural and professional competence needed to provide the best services possible for the military community.

The EAGALA Military Services Designation is unique in the world. EAGALA Military Services Providers are specially credentialed with a deep understanding of military culture and life.

Whether treating members of a unit suffering the effects of PTSD, a veteran trying his or her best to find a place back in civilian life or a Gold Star Family working through their loss and grief, it’s critical that treatment protocols make the strongest, most rapid impact.

EAGALA Military Services Providers are committed to helping service members and their families strengthen resilience and coping skills. They’re uniquely qualified to treat:

  • Transitions and reintegration
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Addictions
  • Relationship problems

EAGALA Military Services Providers know that by effectively linking their clients’ values and learning style to their treatment plan, service members, veterans and their families can more quickly and completely understand and integrate new perspectives and behaviors into their lives.

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How You Can Help!

Veterans R&R received our IRS 501(c)3 status as of August 7, 2014. We are 100% Volunteer supported, which means we want to maximize every dollar given to directly support the men and women who serve and who have served our country. We are working toward funding full time program only staff to launch the EAGALA Military Equine Leadership Program in 2016.

Veterans R&R respectfully requests your support for the Veterans R&R Military Equine Leadership Program which will create a prepared, calm and safe environment for the healing of veterans, active duty military personnel and their families. We are currently working to raise funds to build a new heated facility so we are able to run our program all year around. No donation is too small, every dollar helps save a life.

  • Build a New Barn and Indoor $500,000
  • Build Pastures and Paddocks $100,000
  • Build an Outdoor Arena $75,000
  • 12 week session for one person $2600
  • Sponsor all care for 1 Therapy Horse for 1 Year $4000
  • Feed a Therapy Horse for 1 year $1500
  • 1 Horse 1 Year Farrier Care $480
  • 1 Horse 1 Year Veterinary Care $400

The H.E.L.P Program Outline

The EAGALA Model provides a standard and structure for providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning sessions.  Practicing within a model establishes a foundation of key values and beliefs, and provides a basis of good practice and professionalism.  The EAGALA Model provides a framework of practice, but within that framework, there are infinite opportunities for creativity and adaptability to various therapeutic and facilitating styles.

The Team Approach – An Equine Specialist, a Mental Health professional, and horses work together with clients in all EAGALA sessions.

Focus on the ground  – No horseback riding is involved. Instead, effective and deliberate techniques are utilized where the horses are metaphors in specific ground-based experiences.

Solution-Oriented – The basis of the EAGALA Model is a belief that all clients have the best solutions for themselves when given the opportunity to discover them.  Rather than instructing or directing solutions, we allow our clients to experiment, problem-solve, take risks, employ creativity, and find their own solutions that work best for them.

Code of Ethics – EAGALA has high standards of practice and ethics and an ethics committee and protocol for upholding these standards, ensuring best practices and the highest level of care.


The Horse:  Horses have many characteristics which lend them to being effective agents of change, including honesty, awareness, and ability with nonverbal communication.  The role of the horses in an EAGALA session is to be themselves.

The Equine Specialist (ES):  The ES chooses the horses to be used in sessions, works with the MHP to structure sessions, keeps an equine log to document horse behaviors in sessions, stays aware of safety and welfare of clients, horses, and team, and makes observations of horse SPUD’s (an EAGALA-developed observation framework taught in the certification training program) which can bring in potential metaphors.

The Mental Health Professional (MHP):  The MHP is responsible for treatment planning, documentation of clients, and ensuring ethical practice.  The MHP builds on the ES’s horse observations, bringing in the metaphoric and therapeutic/learning relevance of the session.

Key Team Members * 

Padre’, Spike, Lilly, Pe’re, Gunther, Gabbi, Divinchi, Jack, Shrimp /  Therapy Horses

Patti Gruber Stable Director / Equine  Specialist

Cheryl Novas Executive Director / Mental Health Professional