NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Since 2012, “Hooves for Heroes” has helped our military veterans with the transition to civilian life.

“Veterans, especially veterans who have been in combat, come back and are on high alert. And, so, learning how to manage that and be at peace is a perfect opportunity with the horses,” explains Veterans Program Manager Susannah Denney.

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The program has already helped more than 1,700 veterans including Koco Powell. She served eight years in the U.S. Navy and saw time in the combat zone. She came home to deal with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Even though Powell has been around horses most of her life, she admits she was skeptical.

Equest’s HOOVES FOR HEROES empowers veterans and military families to take charge of their civilian transitions and assume new roles as civic leaders. (credit: CBS 11 News)

“I just thought of it as pleasure riding or western riding and let’s go on a trail ride and have a good time. And not in a sense of healing your heart, your soul and also your body,” said Powell.

With a mix of counseling and equine therapy, Powell is a believer.

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“It is helping me on a whole other level, and opening me up to deal with more personal and people interaction,” she said.

The program’s manager says allowing veterans to work with horses improves self-awareness and self-confidence during the transition period.

“They’ve lost their sense of purpose or in the feel of community. They come here and find, first, that trust with the horse. That trust can translate to a volunteer or a fellow participant or an instruction. And that translates back to their family and their community,” according to Denney.

Hooves for Heroes is a free program that’s offered through Equest, which is based in southeast Dallas. There are volunteer opportunities and other ways for the public to help.

Click here to read more about the program.

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