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WTOL 11 Leaders in Action: Healing veterans with horses at Swanton Township farm

The founder of HOOVES is honored for her work with veterans and others with PTSD.

SWANTON, Ohio — It sometimes takes a lot of pain and suffering to serve our country and those feelings can last for years after a conflict.

But a local woman is doing what she can to help and she deserved a surprise.

WTOL 11's Tim Miller and Dan Cummins surprised Amanda Held this week at the HOOVES Farm as one of our Leaders In Action.

"And we're all here because of you!" Miller told her.

"Uh oh, what did I do?" Held said.

Cummins explained that Held was being honored for her work with veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Held is the founder of HOOVES, or Healing Our Veterans Equine Services.

At her farm in Swanton Township, she welcomes in veterans from all over the country who are experiencing PTSD and uses horses to help them overcome it.

Here's some of what was written in the letter nominating her for the honor:

"Amanda has selflessly dedicated the past 11 years to service of our Veterans. She demonstrates tireless commitment to healing our service members who have been suffering from PTSD. Amanda has a passion and true desire."

She runs one, four-day retreat each month and says they are seeing incredible results. Costs for housing, food, programming and transportation are completely covered thanks to donations.

Held has developed a unique set of tools using a method called Equine Integrated Wellness as the cornerstone of the program.

The veterans don't ride on the horses but the horses become conduits for self-reflection and personalized feedback. As they participate in the retreat, the veterans are involved in group workshops and individual sessions. Each participant is partnered with a rescue horse in customized exercises.

Held said the horses have a unique ability to pull out what's hurting the veterans.

"They're not broken," Held said. "They just don't ave the tools to manage or process what they've been through. And so we spend four days, we work with the horses, we get to the root of what is really going on and we teach them how to transform that."

More than 400 veterans have been served in the retreats and 70 veterans go through the program each year.

The participants can begin to heal, regain control, and move forward with purpose and peace of heart and mind following their graduation from the program.

Held also received a plaque displaying her Leaders In Action honor and was given a $250 gift card from Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union.

For information on HOOVES and the retreats, you can visit the group's website.

WTOL 11's Leaders In Action

Don't forget, you have a chance to nominate a Leader in Action for next month!

WTOL 11 is honoring those leaders who inspire others with their dedication and compassion. Each month, WTOL 11 will pick one leader from your nominations and make sure that leader and our community knows the impact they are making.

Do you know another leader who makes a difference in the community they serve? Nominate a leader today who inspires you with their dedication and compassion.

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