ARLINGTON, Va. – A ranch in Washington State has opened its gates for Soldiers in the Army Recovery Care Program, assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord, to participate in equine therapy.Equine therapy is not new to the military community. It is an effective way to reduce post-traumatic stress according to 2017 studies conducted by the University of Missouri and Baylor University. Both studies found that a horse’s ability to identify threats helps it to mirror anxiety back to the veteran, helping the veteran learn to manage their anxiety.Maj. Paz Munoz, a Soldier at the JBLM WTB has only been participating in equine therapy for three weeks, but says the program has already begun to help her slow down and remember simpler times.“It’s a very unique experience that reminds me of my childhood when my grandpa had a few older horses that worked in his field we helped him take care of,” Munoz said. “Being around the horses, the essence of the animal and its nature is the same from when I was younger so it takes me back to that simple time.”The simplicity that Munoz gains from equine therapy helps her put things into perspective and see that not everything is as complicated as it may seem. It has also given her a chance to lead again and be nurtured in the process.“The horses want to know that you’re in charge and you’re the leader and I like that,” Munoz said. “They pair you with a horse based on your personality and that of the horse, because it will allow you to best be helped by the horse and the horse by you.”All participants complete a questionnaire as part of a systematic review of their physical, emotional and mental needs and are then paired with a horse that will help meet those needs. Munoz was paired with Velvet, whom she says has been a great match for her.Over three weeks, Munoz has learned how to approach Velvet, to groom her, and a few basic commands to help her lead, turn and stop. Munoz also says they have been taught some of the physical cues horses make to let you know how they feel. “For example, when they pull their ears back it’s a warning or they detect danger, or when you get close to them and they lick their lips it means they like you.”Munoz likes to listen to the instructions and put it into practice which allows her to better connect with the animal. She also finds comfort in knowing the connections don’t have to stop there.“When you have a very busy lifestyle you tend to lose the ability to make those personal connections,” Munoz explained. “By taking a step back and learning how to make those connections with the animal, it has allowed me to put those steps back in place in my life and apply it to human relationships.”In a few weeks, equine therapy has had a large impact on Munoz and she is excited to continue with the program.“[Equine therapy] has helped me learn more about my own needs and what I need to focus on and that’s been really helpful,” Munoz said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about myself through this process.”