LEXINGTON, Ky. — A group of veterans spent last Friday riding across Lexington, Kentucky, on horseback to remember service members lost to suicide.
Those who participated in the 20-mile "Trail to Zero" also said they're finding peace in the saddle.
"My horse is the best therapist in the world," said Ken Boyd, whose son, CJ, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. "He saved me. He truly saved my life."
When the young Marine died, Boyd said he felt lost until he discovered BraveHearts equine therapy. The Gold Star father ended up adopting his horse, named CJ's Brother.
"I never rode a day in my life until I was 60 years old," Boyd said. "And I ride three to four days a week and help veterans and volunteer. I now have a purpose, and that purpose is not only my horse, but veterans, and taking care of them."
Those veterans include Kyle Farbman, who retired from the Army in 2016. He turned to equine therapy when he didn't know where else to go.
"I nearly took my life a few times," said Farbman. "I have seen the end of my life within seconds."
Veteran suicide is considered an epidemic in the U.S. An average of 20 veterans take their lives each day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In Kentucky, nearly 100 veterans died by suicide in 2019.
"Go into the military, you're coming out changed," he said. "For better or for worse, you're coming out changed."
Five years after returning to civilian life, Farbman connects with other veterans on trail rides, where he's surrounded by people who better understand what he went through.
There's also the horses and their ability to help people who are hurting.
"This is a living, breathing therapist," Boyd said. "You're on them every day, and you have to have that connection."
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This story was originally published by Evelyn Schultz at WLEX.