Horseback Riding May Relieve Combat Vets’ PTSD Symptoms

Horseback Riding May Relieve Combat Vets’ PTSD Symptoms

With tens of thousands of U.S. servicemembers having returned to the States after serving in the long-running conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, much focus has been placed by the medical community on the long-term effects of the experiences and exposure encountered by veterans. One of the most common syndromes affecting a wide swatch of veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is highly prevalent amongst combat veterans and which can manifest itself in a multitude of ways, presenting as symptoms which can hinder the ability of these individuals to function in their daily lives.

A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri and published in the journal Military Medical Research has suggested one possible therapy for PTSD consisting of an old-fashioned activity: horseback riding. The research cohort consisted of thirty-two veterans who each participated in a set of three once-weekly horseback riding sessions, and by the end of the study this group showed a collective lowering in the presence of PTSD symptoms. In the sessions, the veterans focused not only on riding skills, but on grooming and interaction with their animals. While more research needs to be performed in this promising area of therapy, the researchers have a working hypothesis that the high level of concentration required for horseback riding acts as an outlet for the latent anxiety that accumulates in PTSD sufferers.

Key Points:

  • 1Weekly riding sessions have lowered symptom scores for veterans with PTSD.
  • 2Learning a new skill diverts the anxiety they suffer from.
  • 3Horseback riding could serve as an alternative therapy when other methods have failed.


Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder have high anxiety, and to have (them) focus on learning a skill is diverting. They’re very focused,” she said. “Riders are mastering horsemanship skills. It’s not a pony ride.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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