Recovery Through Horsemanship




“If you can establish trust and respect with a horse, you can do the same with your sons and daughters, with your spouse and with your community.”

Recovery Through Horsemanship

Giddy-up for National Day of the Cowboy—a day set aside to honor the contributions cowboys and cowgirls have made to American culture.

The Semper Fi Fund celebrates cowboys all year round. Through the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, cowboys play a very important role in our mission to support post-9/11 combat wounded, critically ill, and catastrophically injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Since 2011, we have worked directly with cowboys and cattle ranchers to provide a confidence-boosting and skill-building horsemanship program for our service members and their families. The skills learned and refined in the program encourage and support recovery and reintegration through camaraderie, individual achievement and the strength of the animal-human bond.

“It’s important to understand the dynamics of taking combat vets who were wounded, injured or have an illness critical enough to be assisted by the Semper Fi Fund,” explains John Mayer, Foreman of the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program.

John Mayer: “Trauma can affect their minds, bodies, souls and spirits. Some of them are suffering from PTSD or have a traumatic brain injury, but no matter the injury we a find a way to get them to ride.”

An amazing bond can form between horse and rider given the right mindset. A horse is very good at sensing what’s going on in the soul of the human being, he doesn’t care where you’ve been, where you’re going, he cares about right now. We have found this special bond between the horse and rider to help immensely with controlling anger, battling depression, developing self-confidence, and most of all an uplifting of the spirit to conquer the challenges of everyday life.

John Mayer: “The job is to establish respect and that to me is a great dynamic for our riders – the important thing is not that these guys and gals become great riders, it’s that in the end they have confidence. If you can establish trust and respect with a horse, you can do the same with your sons and daughters, with your spouse and with your community.”

Since the inception of the Jinx McCain program, more than 300 service members and veterans have saddled up and experienced the satisfaction of developing their horsemanship. An important aspect of the program is that it involves service members and veterans working with ranchers on traditional cowboy skills.

Cowboys riding at the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program

There’s a spirit to these magnificent animals that uniquely empowers many service members in their own recovery journey. Working with horses in this way can be a life changing experience. From the moment a service member meets his horse, the transformation in mind, body, and soul is palpable—one of the most powerful gifts we can give back to those who have so faithfully served our great nation.