NIANTIC, Conn. (AP) — After losing sight in his right eye from a 2013 rocket attack in Afghanistan, retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan Thomas recovered with help from an equine therapy program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Hoping to help other veterans, he and his wife traveled from their home in Alabama to Connecticut last week to purchase two massive, jet black carriage horses, animals that were put up for auction by the state after they were seized from a breeder in February as part of an animal abuse investigation and rehabilitated through a state program involving female prison inmates who help with the care.
Thomas said the two Friesian mares, among 32 emaciated and depressed horses taken from the farm, are the perfect animals to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"They know what it’s like to go through hell and come out the other side," said Thomas, who plans to create a program similar to the one he experienced at the couple’s 160-acre ranch in Black, Alabama. The Friesians, 1,400-pound Francisca and 1,000-pound Rosalind, will join seven other horses the couple previously rescued.
Considered a "war horse" in the Middle Ages, Friesians are a highly sought-after breed, recognized for being gentle and intelligent. Thomas knows firsthand that such a demeanor in a horse can be a calming influence for returning combat veterans.
"I’ve been through lots and lots of things. After being blown up, it’s quite a traumatic experience…