We often hear that U.S. veterans receive no real gratitude for their service once they return home. But South Carolina native Diane Prewitt is trying to change that – one horse ride at a time.
Prewitt operates Guiding Reins, which offers free equine-assisted therapy for military veterans, active-duty military personnel, first responders and all family members.
“I noticed a need in our community to specifically address trauma-induced illnesses among veteran populations,” Prewitt said. “Guiding Reins aims to fill that void at no cost to our veterans through grants, fundraising and private donations. And equine-assisted therapy is a proven alternative approach to improving mental and physical health.”
Prewitt and her staff manage two locations: ShadyView Farm in Campobello, South Carolina, and Winding Creek Stables in nearby Tryon, North Carolina. Together, the teams address many special veteran needs, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, head or brain trauma, stroke, physical abuse and physical combat injuries.
“We began sessions in 2020 with two veterans, two horses and two volunteers,” Prewitt said. “Now, in just over a year, we’re serving 15 veterans and five family members.”
Sessions are weekly and run throughout the year, and participants can choose either one-on-one sessions with a therapist or group sessions of up to three participants.
“The success of equine-assisted therapies and riding programs has been proven time and again,” Prewitt said. “They aid not only in handling physical challenges facing veterans but in enhancing their emotional connections and relieving mental stress.”
Prewitt also has created a veteran scholarship fund on a sliding scale for family members to aid in the healing process.
“It’s my way of showing gratitude to the men and women who served our country,” she said. “And everyone at Guiding Reins wants to help them recover from anything they are dealing with as a result of their service.”
For more information, visit www.guidingreins.org or call 864-457-3575.
By L. C. Leach III