"There is something about the outside of a horse
that is good for the inside of a man." - Sir Winston Churchill
Heroes and Horses
Who We Are and What We Do
It is said that in war there are no unwounded soldiers. Heroes and Horses is designed to give America’s war veterans an opportunity to heal those wounds through experiencing some of the joys of nature in a setting of beauty and peacefulness. The project’s name was chosen to evoke the spirit of courage and passion that lies in all of us and to focus on the powerful relationship and bond between man and horse. Heroes and Horses proves Winston Churchill’s theory correct, as do a number of new studies and programs that focus the quantitative results of horses’ influence upon humans and human behavior.
All the principals involved in organizing the Heroes and Horses experience have a deep connection with nature, horses, a love for the outdoors and deep ties to the military through their own service or that of generations of family members. The project operates out of the Mantle Ranch, located on 1500 acres outside of Three Forks, Montana alongside the Missouri River.
Who Can Participate
Heroes & Horses is open to any recent American combat veteran who loves and could benefit from the breathtaking beauty and unique demands of Montana's real ranch country and who craves the sense of accomplishment gained by mastering true horsemanship and skills in the challenging backcountry of America's majestic Rocky Mountains. A seven-day working horse ranch experience is available for a wide-range of gutsy veterans at the Mantle Ranch, offering an opportunity to learn--through intensive instruction and interaction with fellow combat veterans--how to ride, pack, and orchestrate a mountain trip, as well as a variety of related equine and back-country activities on one of the most spectacular working horse ranches in the West.
Heroes & Horses is designed to provide a challenging, educational, and goal-oriented experience for war veterans who can benefit from the resulting knowledge, camaraderie, and skills. Utilizing the equine expertise of the Mantles and Whites, the beauty and reality of the ranch and its 400 horses and working ranch facilities, the location in spectacular Big Sky country and the sheer challenge, Heroes & Horses empowers candidates to enjoy life, the great outdoors and horses. It influences them to become creative both recreationally and entrepreneurially.
A Heroes & Horses trip to the Mantle Ranch is designed to be a life-changing experience for any veteran. To request participation in Heroes & Horses, email firstname.lastname@example.org for application information.
How it Helps
Scientific studies have proven what "horse people" have long known: the emotional behavior of horses can change the emotional state, leadership and organizational skills of all types of people. Many professionals in the equine field have long asserted that horses tend to mirror or reflect the human emotional experience, and claim that horses are effective partners for facilitating human healing and achieving higher levels of personal growth and leadership development.
Being around horses and working with them for many years, the principals of this project have lived and learned the special relationship and bond between man and horse in their own lives. They have created Heroes and Horses to bring that relationship and healing to returning veterans.
The experience of bringing together a group of combat veterans--each dealing with the process of returning to the normalcy of everyday life after war and each looking to communicate that process with others of the same mind--is invaluable. No classroom, no respite, no program can provide the opportunity to accomplish a goal, learn a set of skills, and challenge the mind and body like the great outdoors. No companionship is as effective as that found around a campfire at 9,000 feet, with no parameters and no guided limit or canned focus. No sense of accomplishment compares to the first time you and your horse have climbed the mountain with the confidence of competence, then looked out over the grandeur of America--the greatest country in the world--with knowledge that is yours and available always for your enjoyment and that of your friends and family. This is freedom worth fighting for. It should be capitalized upon like the spoils of war. It is a reward in itself. It should be enjoyed by our soldiers upon their return. It is uniquely theirs.
Heroes and Horses Staff
Montana Horses is owned and operated by Kail Mantle & Renee Daniels-Mantle, who run several hundred head of saddle horses on and around their Mantle Ranch and thousands of horses across the West. The Mantle Family has been in the horse business for over a century and their name has become synonymous with the horse business.
Kail and Renee Mantle oversee and coordinate all Heroes and Horses onsite operations with the assistance of Mark and Jean White, who also coordinate and oversee all pack trips into the mountains. Jeff Pappas coordinates corporate sponsors/individual sponsors and public relations, and is also an onsite volunteer to assist the Mantles and the Whites. Former Corporal Mike Pappas, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, joins Jeff as an onsite volunteer.
Combat veterans and Soldiers' Angels Board of Trustees Members Matt Burden and Mark Seavey helped tailor the Horses & Heroes project and have completed the ranch week. They work closely with individual veterans and veterans' associations to choose appropriate candidates who can benefit from participation in the project.
Kail & Renee Mantle