The offering of hope

It was a crisp morning, waking up was easier than the day before especially amidst the surroundings of Kangaroo Valley.  Who of us would have thought we would be here, gathered amongst the green gentle slopes, the echo of many different species of plants and animals calling us to be serene and one with ourselves and nature. Very different from our last few years of hell. 

Suffering from long-term trauma is like your whole mind body has caved in. There is a real struggle to see clearly, to focus on anything of worth and to merely cope day-to-day. Recent memories disappear and flashbacks of our trauma events rule, making sleep near impossible. We were stuck in this vicious cycle, often taking us to a dark place unsure whom we can trust. The symptoms of our daily lives named as post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety repeated endlessly. 

We are former military sailors, soldiers and air personnel and/or former first responders. We all knew people who sadly didn’t make it out the other side. We thought we wouldn’t make it until we were given life-changing opportunities from the generous and genuine support of locals, Helene and Greg, from The Cedars Equine Program

Since 2015, we have had the opportunity to join with professional horseman and ex-NSW Police Officer, Scott Brodie, at Cedars and be welcomed with warmth and hospitality from our hosts Helene and Greg. Indeed, it was our second chance in life as it was also for the ex-racehorses we were about to retrain for their second careers. None of us could see past the day, sometimes not even the hour, but in the midst of this peaceful natural beauty of Kangaroo Valley something stirred inside all of us.  

Healing came in grounding ourselves to the vital nutrients of nature that surrounded us and filled us with vitality and life. Healing came in regaining our confidence and trust as we worked with ex-racehorses. Healing came in team building activities sharing that common bond. Being part of this equine program on this land, invited calm from chaos, a sense of belonging when we had lost everything and to be part of something bigger than our stories.  We needed this time.

The cherished times we spent at Cedars over the years brought us hope to continue on. Essentially, we moved from conflict to hope and found our balance to live life again. Scott and I have written our story, along with the voices of some NSW-based military veterans, on how this unique equine program has saved lives. The need is great. There are far more traumatised veterans and first responders in NSW that can receive this offering of hope too. 

Our book, Conflict to Hope, is available for purchase. Proceeds of your contribution will go towards supporting Horse Aid to help other veterans and first responders to complete a program. Also, coming out this year, is a documentary film called The Healing, which show cases Cedars in Kangaroo Valley and the benefits of horses healing humans healing horses. 


Published in The Voice, 2022, Kangaroo Valley NSW local

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