The Saratoga WarHorse project: a case study of the treatment of psychological distress in a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Adv Mind Body Med. 2013 Fall;27(4):22-5.


Objective: We theorized that ability to direct and control a horse will lead to a sense of empowerment, facilitate a relationship between horse and veteran, lead to a decrease in anxiety, and improve physical and social functioning.

Methods: This case study utilizes the Connection methodology: nonverbal language of the horse in a predictable, sequential, and repeatable method. Psychological testing occurred immediately pre- and post-Connection with follow-up occurring at 2, 4, 6, and 12 wks post-Connection.

Participant: Twice-deployed combat medic who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Setting: Saratoga Springs, New York.

Primary outcome measures: Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II); Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-C); the Response to Stressful Experiences Scale (RSES); the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI); and the Modified Social Support Survey (MSSS).

Results: The participant demonstrated significant improvement in measures of psychological functioning (eg, over 12 wks); both PCL-C and RSES scores decreased 58% and 44%, respectively. Participant further reported an increase in sleep quality.

Conclusion: The results of this case study strongly support the potential for the intervention and indicate the need for a controlled, randomized study that might more stringently investigate the impact of the intervention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy / methods*
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology*