MILFORD, Ohio -- Jason Short never thought he’d be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
But three years after serving in Afghanistan, the 34-year-old army veteran has found comfort at Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding, a horseback riding program for children and adults with disabilities in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Short is enrolled in Veterans WORTH, a program offered at Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding where vets train wild mustangs -- animals that otherwise would have been sent to the slaughterhouse.
Rob Seideman, Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding executive director, adopted the mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management.
For Short, the program has proved to be unlike any other method of therapy.
"With the VA, you're always dealing with therapists, group sessions, you kind of feel like a test subject," Short said. "This is different, way different. This, there's no talking.
“Who wants to relive the horrible experience that got 'em there in the first place,” Seideman said. “Veterans are trained to think they don't need help. They're the helpers."
Fifteen veterans are enrolled in the program now, and approximately 400 more will seek treatment there over the next year.
Ron Liming teaches the veterans how to train the mustangs. He said the horses look for leadership, and the veterans want to lead.
Short believes this dynamic makes the program work.
Short has found a new sense of camaraderie within these wild animals, and now he volunteers as a peer veteran to teach others how to train them.
"You gain that trust with ‘em and it just, you go home feeling so much better," Short said.