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Healing the Warrior Spirit with the Wisdom of Horses



A holiday gift from SHHS to our veterans and their loved ones



Veterans and their families, along with current and perspective students and SHHS faculty and staff experienced a unique event on December 6 at the Rolling Horse Ranch in Ramona, California.  The horse training event featured horseman Brad Myers from Operation Silver Spurs (OSS).  Attendees were introduced to OSS's horse training approach to connect with their warrior spirit, renew their leadership roles, and learn that horses and fellow humans “will have their six” (have their back).  A lecture and demonstration of working with horses was given with Rolling Horse Ranch horse Rusty.  Participants learned a new “CODE” of how to handle the challenges and opportunities that life as a veteran or those who support them can use to better their journey in life.  After the presentation, participants interacted with the horses at the ranch and enjoyed lunch provided by the university.  SHHS attendees included Dean Dr. Gloria McNeal, Health Sciences Chair Dr. Michael Myers, Health Sciences Assistant Professor Linda Macomber, Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Alice Noquez, and Deanna Stevens, Assistant to the Dean.  Members of the leadership team of the Veterans Village of San Diego including Executive Vice President Andre Simpson and Shellie Brown, Director of Programs were in attendance as well.

The event was graciously hosted by SHHS faculty member Ellen Kaye Gehrke at her Rolling Horse Ranch.  Ellen is a Professor of Health Sciences in the SHHS and is the human herd leader at Rolling Horse Ranch.

Founded by Ellen and her late husband Carsten, Rolling Horse Ranch’s initial focus was to provide a safe home for a growing herd of horses after an incident at a boarding facility motivated them to find a place to care for their horses themselves. Their vision was to design the ranch so it could accommodate intimate horsemanship clinics and be a beacon in the horse community for establishing healthy and safe partnerships with horses.  Since its founding in 1999, the ranch has continued through the years to host leadership workshops, therapeutic riding events, and one on one coaching.  All involve partnerships with horses.  Dr. Gehrke also has an active and ongoing interest in research with horses and humans in the integrative and complementary health community.  She has published numerous articles and presentations on her research, and recently presented a paper with her colleagues at National University at the142nd Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in New Orleans.  Plans are under way in the SHHS to continue research and grant writing in this area of healing and supporting veterans and their loved ones with horses.  Click on the pics below to see the full photo.

Horseman Brad Myers gives a lecture with Rusty.

Linda Macomber (in blue at left) talks with an attendee as Dean McNeal (center at right) talks to Ellen Gehrke and Veterans Village VP Andre Simpson.

Ellen introduces Shilo to the group.

Veterans and their families interact with Rusty.


Dr. Alice Noquez talks to attendees near the feeding horses.

Linda Macomber and Veterans Village Andre Simpson watch Brad in the ring.

Attendees interact with the horses at the end of the presentation.


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