Power of the Horse to Heal

Ben Maguire’s love of horses is contagious.

“Horses are big and powerful things who don’t judge people,” the stockman said.

“Doesn’t matter how stressful your day is, if you can get on a horse and go for a ride through great scenery, it’s very special.”

Mr Maguire, his wife Marina and their daughter Harriette are committed to sharing their passion for horses with people who really need it.

In late 2016 the family launched the horsemanship program Remount based at their property in Yass.

Family of three stand with their horses.Breaking a cycle

The not-for-profit is designed to help returned servicemen and women and their families manage the impact of stress, injury, loss or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Volunteers celebrated the organisation’s first year with a scenic ride around the trails of the National Arboretum this week.

Throughout the year Remount hosted dozens of veterans for two- to four-day horsemanship camps.

“We remind people there’s a community who appreciate their service,” Mr Maguire said.

“It can break a cycle of someone’s lack of self worth and it really reminds them of how good life can be.

“It also has people achieving things they never would have imagined.

“By the time they go home they’ve really achieved some great things with their horse.”

Volunteer program

The Maguires were first inspired in 2013 after hosting a campdraft at Longreach in Queensland working with soldiers and horses.

“We met retired colonel John Mayer who had run horsemanship programs in the US having worked in the (Marine Corps) Wounded Warrior Regiment,” Mr Maguire said.

“He made us realise we could use our passion for horses to help veterans who have given so much.

“When we bought the farm at Yass we realised it was the perfect place to set it up.”

Mr Maguire is focused on making the program “no-fuss”.

“I’m really starting to understand that some of the pain caused in the veteran community is the administrative process that they need to go through in order to get any support,” he said.

“It’s that bureaucratic process that I believe is causing a lot of the pain they’re facing.

“We just welcome people and say hello, we feed our visitors and we thank them for their service.”

A horse owner packs up her horse's saddle

What is it about horses?

Former members of the police force, firefighters, Vietnam veterans and naval officers are just some of the people who have come away from the program with a host of newfound skills.

“The horses treat people kindly, they treat them with respect and help them do things they wouldn’t have imagined they’d be able to do,” Mr Maguire said.

“Depending on how everyone is tracking, we try and get the group on the cattle on day one, even if they’d never before seen a horse in their life.

“Some come to us and are still receiving some acute care, but by the end of day one we see a change in them.”