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Research to focus on horse-human bond for veterans with PTSD

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The Equine Science Center, part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station through Rutgers University, is beginning a new program to offer therapy using horses for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER
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The Equine Science Center, part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station through Rutgers University, is beginning a new program to offer therapy using horses for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER
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HorsesPHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER
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The Equine Science Center, part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station through Rutgers University, is beginning a new program to offer therapy using horses for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER
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The Equine Science Center, part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station through Rutgers University, is beginning a new program to offer therapy using horses for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER
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HorsesPHOTOS COURTESY OF THE EQUINE SCIENCE CENTER

The Equine Science Center at Rutgers University has announced its fundraising initiative kickoff for a research project that will focus on Equine Assisted Activ-ities and Therapies (EAAT) for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which will coincide with June’s Month of the Horse in New Jersey.

The research project, to be conducted by the Equine Science Center, will focus on the horse-human bond, and how EAAT affects humans and horses during these types of therapy sessions.

“It is important that we are not only able to fund the research that will be conducted, but also cover all costs associated with the veterans who will be volunteering their time for this important cause,” Equine Science Center Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski said.

“This will be the first time research conducted with EAAT will measure the same physiological markers of stress and well-being simultaneously in the horses and the veterans,” she said.

The proposed project, an eight-week research trial by Ph.D. candidate Ellen Rankins, will examine equine and human health in the treatment of PTSD specifically within the New Jersey veteran population, according to a press release.

“The study will look at how the interactions between the horses and humans, sometimes referred to as a ‘horse-human bond’ affect one another,” Rankins said.

“Not only will data be collected during the trial period, we will also follow up with the participants to observe how long these changes are sustained over time,” she said.

Rankins is looking to enlist 120 participants for the project. From this group, 30 combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD will be selected to go through the therapy sessions.
State Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington) serves on the Assembly’s Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

“Growing up I saw firsthand the bond between horses and people, myself included, and the good that can come from that connection,” Dancer said.

“But when we then go to get these types of equine therapies covered by insurance, the first question asked is, ‘Where is the data? Show me the science to prove this type of therapy works.’

“My hope is that the research conducted at the Equine Science Center will be able to scientifically demonstrate the effectiveness of EAAT,” Dancer said.

While non-essential research at Rutgers is currently on hold, the research funding initiative launched and donations may be made by visiting http://give.rutgers.edu/escresearch.

The center’s major fundraising event will be Rutgers Giving Day on June 17. The first $10,000 will be matched by UMH Properties Inc., on behalf of Sam Landy.

To help with this challenge-match, visit https://givingday.rutgers.edu/campaigns/equine-science-center-research on June 17.

The project is a partnership with statewide stakeholders including the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Special Strides in Monroe Township, where the therapy sessions will be conducted; the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University; the Office of Veterans and Military Programs and Services at Rutgers; and the Rutgers Business School – Military and Veteran Engagement Programs.

For more information, contact Kyle Hartmann at kylehart@njaes.rutgers.edu

For information about donating to the project, contact Roz Beberman at roz.beberman@rutgers.edu or call 848-932-3593.

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