'Back in the Saddle' helps veterans recover through horse therapy

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- In September of 2017, Jessica Streamo created the organization "Back in the Saddle." The group helps military members, first responders and their families overcome post-traumatic stress through horseback riding.

The program is part of PATH international, Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

"It's more than just riding lessons, it's horsemanship, so we learn A to Z horse," Streamo said. "So we're not just handing off our horse all groomed and tacked up and letting you get on and look all pretty and then handing it back; you need to do the work."

Every Tuesday, the group meets at Hillcrest Farms in Smithfield. The Coats family, the owners of the farm, allows the group to use the facility for the program so the veterans do not have to pay.

"Most importantly, it gives them a reason to go and do something," Streamo said. And when they come and work with the horses, they have to pay attention to the horses, they can't be lost in their own sort of negative thoughts."

Sgt. Jeremy Muncert is a participant in the program.

Muncert was serving his country 10 years ago when he suffered an open skull traumatic brain injury, leaving him in a coma for 21 days.

When the 230-pound Muncert awoke from the coma, he weighed just 88 pounds. He endured a complete facial reconstruction requiring approximately 150 screws and was left legally blind. His right hip and leg are held together by a metal rod.

"When I woke up, I'm not remembering where I'm at, what's going on," Muncert said. I guess to get the rude awakening of what life was going to be like now."

Through riding, Muncert has regained confidence and balance. He can again ride a bike, something he loved doing before his catastrophic injury.

"Even though I have all these disabilities and issues in my life, I still can get out there and do amazing, great things," Muncert said.

He added, "People said I'd never have another birthday, I'd never work, never do anything again. I know there's a purpose for us in this life, and that's why I believe I was saved, to do good things in this world. I was a good soldier, and I'm going to be a better civilian."

For more information on Back in the Saddle, click here.
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