Ernest leading a horse

Horses change Ernest’s life

For years, Ernest’s life was going along smoothly. Happily married with children and grandchildren, he was running his own company and playing golf and skiing in his free time. Life was good.

Then one day, everything changed. He tripped on the curb of a sidewalk and an old foot injury from Vietnam came back to haunt him. The pain from his foot, radiated to his back, making it difficult to walk and even stand up straight. He couldn’t work, had to sell his company and became depressed. Then, all of the memories from the war came flooding back. “I had never really processed my feelings from Vietnam,” he said. “I was in denial.”

One day, he became very agitated after a flashback and it scared his grandson. It was at this moment, he knew he needed help. He reached out to counselors at the Veterans Administration and learned about a program with Fieldstone Farm. He remembered his days growing up on a farm, as the oldest of five kids in Georgia, and became intrigued. He enrolled in the program and spent two sessions working with our horses along with counselors from the VA.

“Coming to Fieldstone, allowed me to take a vacation from my chronic pain,” Ernest says, explaining how the horses helped him heal both physically and mentally. “They have transformed my life.”

Now, Ernest is giving back to veterans just like him and is a volunteer at Fieldstone Farm in the carriage driving program. He wants to help other veterans find confidence, courage and independence like he did. He recalls how he saw a triple amputee hold the reins while carriage driving, and the joy and amazement it brought to both him and the other veteran that he could achieve this milestone.