A group of veterans in Olympia are experiencing the healing power of horses.

Healing Hearts Ranch is hosting a three-day program called Operation T.H.R.I.V.E.

The program is designed for vets who are carrying the burden of traumatic experiences. Founder Kristy Dees says that because horses, who are prey animals and are naturally flighty, are used to regulating trauma to maintain a calm, rhythmic state.

“From my experience, what I think happens is that there is a deep resonance between veterans and horses,” said Dees.

The animals’ ability to return to a calm mentality from trauma can teach veterans how to regulate themselves when they experience stress.

“What we do is teach people how to reconnect with themselves and how to reconnect with a very large animal and learn that it’s not a power and control thing. They can learn to be safe with their own bodies and trust others to keep themselves safe as well,” said Julie Sole, a therapist and fellow veteran who helps out during the program.

Veterans observe the horses herd behavior, learn to approach the animal with consent, bond through grooming and touch, and then get to ride the animals.

The program is free for vets thanks to sponsors.

For more information, go to heartstridestherapeuticriding.com.