Heroes and Horses
Founded by former Navy SEAL, Micah Fink, and based in Montana, Heroes and Horses utilizes a variety of tools, centered on the horse/human connection, including the Wim Hof Method, a Whole30 diet, physical exercise, journaling and meditation in order to provide veterans an opportunity to heal from their physical and mental scars. As their website states under "Our Theory":
"We’ve done a great job of turning civilians into soldiers, but fundamentally failed at helping soldiers transition back into civilians;
High unemployment rates are a direct result of a system that is not created to support the redefining of purpose after service;
There is a huge issue with the over-prescribing of psychiatric medications as a first line of defense;
There is an over-reliance on government assistance programs, which also perpetuates a victim-mentality among the veteran population."
Fundamentally, Heroes and Horses seeks to unearth in combat veterans the innate human capacity to have a sense of purpose, to self-actualize and to explore personal potential. Upon completing the Heroes and Horses Training Camp, Phase 1 of the program is initiated. For 6 days, students (veterans) receive instruction in horsemanship, riding, pack training, back-country skills, stock management, leadership courses and the basics of being an outdoorsman, preceding their first 8-day trip in the backcountry. Following their initial trip, they depart to various commercial ranches around the state to practice the skills they have learned before returning to HQ to participate in and lead various classes on advanced packing, shoeing, equine medicine, truck and trailer driving, chainsaw operation, brand and transportation paperwork, roping, first aid, groundwork and addressing problem horses in order to further prepare them for the 40-day horseback expedition ahead.
Before embarking on their 40-day ride, students spend 11 days in the grandiose Bear Tooth Mountains for the start of Phase 2, where students take turns leading. In regard to the 40-day trek, Fink says "You will have to put in the work, and this will likely be the hardest thing you will ever do...When you get into the backcountry there is no looking back, only forward - just like in life. You cannot run from who you are at Heroes and Horses, and you certainly can’t cheat the mountain."
During Phase 3, students are strategically placed into internships and jobs which will provide them with further opportunity to engage in meaningful work. As their website states, "No matter what a student chooses, it’s imperative that they find meaningful work and keep progressing, or they run the risk of slipping into old patterns."
We have attached the impressive documentary, 500 Miles, highlighting Heroes and Horses' story and process.