Program teaches vets to ride horses

Horses pound the pavement here on the streets of New York City.

"They feel what you're feeling. If you're sad, they know it. If you're anxious they get anxious. If you're mad they want nothing to do with you," said Army veteran Jenny McDonald. 

Jenny McDonald fought for our country and served as a prison guard in Iraq. She’s been suffering from anxiety ever since she’s been home. Learning to ride a horse though, has changed her life.

"I needed a real reason to get out of bed and make myself leave the house every day because I didn't have one. And now I get to teach other veterans how to ride," said McDonald. 

McDonald joined about two dozen others for the second annual “Trail to Zero” horseback ride sponsored by the nonprofit BraveHearts. The organization teaches veterans how to ride. The goal of this 20-mile journey through Manhattan is to raise awareness of the high rate of suicide among veterans each year here in the United States. 

"We ride for the 20 a day that kill themselves and Trail to Zero is exactly what it is. We’re going to ride until it ends, until it's zero," said Mitchell Reno.

Reno is also an Army veteran who says riding brought him closer to his wife and two sons.  After coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, he felt his life was spiraling out of control. 

"Depression, anxiety, PTSD. I have TBI. Totaled 5 cars.”

The Lewis family, who lives in the Financial District, welcomed the opportunity to learn about BraveHearts and all the vets who are suffering. 

"I had no idea it was that many and I think it's amazing that they're out here. And these horses are so calm and soothing and I think it's a great program," said Christine Reedy-Lewis. 

The organization would love to see these rides like this one all over the country in the years to come.