Wild horses help Vietnam veteran overcome PTSD: “I’ll tell you, come out and observe the horses”

PHOENIX, Arizona — Veterans of all ages deal with post-traumatic stress in different ways, from group therapy to art and exercise. But one vet says his special therapy literally came galloping toward him.

“(I) got thrown off a horse when I was five,” Larry Stimeling said.

He never got near a horse again — until he discovered the wild horses roaming Tonto National Forest two years ago.

“I’ll tell you, come out any weekday afternoon and sit and observe the horses,” he said.

This Vietnam veteran says over the decades, nothing has helped him with his post-traumatic stress more than these wild horses.

“It’s like, no one goes to war and comes back the same way,” Stimeling said. “No one observes these horses and comes away in a bad mood.”

Armed with his video and still camera, Stimeling said he’s accumulated 15,000 still photos.

“You never know when something unusual is going to happen,” he said.

He turned his photos of his favorite horse, an injured colt named Diamond, into a book.

“It was definitely a labor of love,” he said.

The proceeds go to the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group – his way of giving back to the animals which give him peace of mind.

He continues to come to this spot along the Salt River every afternoon.

“An hour, two hours, six hours, you go away with a peaceful, easy feeling,” Stimeling said.

And, he jokes, the horses don’t cost taxpayers a dime or the VA appointment time.