A charity which provides equine courses for military veterans and their families dealing with the effects of mental health trauma has received a prestigious award.

Stable Lives was recognised with the Animal Partnership Award at the 2022 Soldiering On Awards yesterday (27 November). The charity provides a calm place to rest, relax and reconnect to society, using horses and ponies who have been rehabilitated from physical and mental abuse.

Each veteran who attends is assigned their own rescue pony for the duration of their six week course, during which time they learn to build trust, respect and resilience together, as they work through an industry recognised qualification.

The charity is run by former event rider Carrie Byrom (pictured top) suffered mental and physical trauma from a serious fall in 2017. During her rehabilitation, she made the decision to devote her life to helping others. As a military wife to Tim, now a veteran, Carrie saw the devastating effect that PTSD can have on service men and women and their families.

Slinky is one of the equines involved in the charity. He joined Stable Lives after being rescued from a tiny barn, where he’d been locked in with 100 other animals for four years.

Fellow Stable Lives pony Fimbo is blind in one eye and helps veterans with physical challenges, showing how he overcame his blindness through specific training to become an invaluable pony used for disabled riders. Meanwhile mare Willow teaches about anxiety and aggressive behaviour. During her rehabilitation, she would react aggressively when she was frightened, yet with careful training, she learned to stay calm and build trust. Through hearing her story and using her within workshops, she teaches children and adults these lessons too.

“If we spoke directly to people about anxiety, aggression and poor life choices, their guards would go up; but through the ponies’ stories and camaraderie, lives are changed, and hope is found,” said Carrie.

Fourteen winners were announced at the 2022 Soldiering On Awards across a diverse range of categories, recognising the hard work and achievements of individuals and organisations from the armed forces community, including serving personnel, veterans and family members.

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue

Check out our latest subscription offer