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Horse Therapy for
WWII Battle Fatigue Patients

wpe355.jpg (16957 bytes)Plattsburg was used as a convalescent hospital for Air Corps combat vets suffering what was then termed battle fatigue. They also treated some who were amputees and needed training and confidence in the use of their new prosthetics. My service record showed that I’d had some experience at horseback riding. I’d done a lot of riding in Central Park, something I learned at summer camp as a boy. There were quite a few rental stables in the vicinity of the park until the late 1950s.

Pictured: Riding the trails at Plattsburg. Rick Jason is on the left.

At war’s outbreak, the cavalry had been disbanded and thousands of horses were unshod and released to roam free over the thousands of acres that were part of Fort Reno, Oklahoma. The post at Plattsburg boasted a large stable, so twenty-two horses were rounded up, shod, and shipped in a box car to us.

I and three other soldiers were selected to gentle down these animals who, in four years of running free, had gone back to their wild state. We were given two weeks to get everything ready before the first influx of patients, and we spent our share of time getting bucked off and landing on our asses. One of the four of us had been a steeplechase jockey before the war and he became the leader of our group. We each cut out a horse for our own personal use and to teach from.

To this day, when anyone asks what I did in the Air Corps, I tell them I taught horseback riding.

Next: Live 1945 GE Television Broadcast

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