Lois Fritz with her adopted BLM mustang, Cecelia Dawn. Photo by Rein Photography.

The Healing Power of Horses and PTSD

By New Jersey ACTHA Member Lois Dawn Fritz
When asked to share my "story" with other ACTHA members...initially, I did not want to draw any attention to myself.  Inside my head I knew God, my husband, my friends, my five horses and four dogs deserved the credit for the state of wellbeing that I enjoy today. 

I’m now fast approaching 46 years old… as a little girl of an alcoholic dairy farmer helper and homemaker mother, I always admired the horses around the farms that surrounded the many houses we called home. I was frequently told I was too poor, too dumb or too stupid (I am learning disabled) by the “horse girls” to ever own a horse.  I put my dreams aside and went on about my life.I was raised in a dysfunctional, abusive and in every way imaginable, upside down family. I survived childhood and when I turned eighteen joined the US Navy.  I served our country proudly, sometimes through difficult and dangerous situations and came home from the Navy where I managed to raise my son as a highly functional, over-achieving single mother – sometimes holding down 2 or 3 jobs at a time.  During this time some PTSD, depression and anxiety began to set in, but I knew I had to keep it together to be the best mother I could, the mother to my son that I did not have growing up.

On September 24, 2009 my 38 year old brother, who was my absolute best friend, died suddenly.  In the following September of 2010 my son had an employment opportunity in Mississippi that he accepted and moved away.  The loss of my brother and the departure of my son became the catalyst for my downward spiral that I had fought for years, and my PTSD, depression and anxiety took over. I began to self medicate with alcohol and went from doctor to doctor for medication and therapist to therapist looking to find the right fix.