There are moments that happen right in front of your eyes that sometimes can't be explained.

Rather, they're felt. 

For three local Marine veterans, the feelings are happening today, away from their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Emotions aren't easy to talk about though. But sometimes words aren't needed. 

When Casey Schaubschlager interacts with Mille, a mustang, at M.A.R.E. Therapeutic Riding Center every Thursday morning, the anxiety or frustration he may feel in the morning slowly washes away as the day progresses. 

"Working with her (Millie) calms and relaxes me," Schaubchlager said, as his four-legged pal stood off to the side, watching him. 

Getting Millie to be ridden is the main goal. She still has a lot of energy but M.A.R.E.'s executive director, Sonya Brewer, said the bond is slowly developing between the veteran and the horse.

Trust is the main connection that has to be gained, from both.  

Millie feels when Schaubschlager is tense. She can tell when he's standoffish. But when he takes a deep breath and relaxes, she'll immediately change her demeanor. 

"It's total body and mental awareness," Brewer noted. 

During the first 10 to 15 minutes of interaction between Schaubschlager and Millie, it seems like the two will never get on the same page. Millie is galloping in circles around the corral. 

But then a moment happens. 

As Schaubschlager extends his left arm, Millie senses the movement and slows down. She then starts trotting the opposite way. A verbal "whoa" leads Mille to stop completely as her human leader approaches. Schaubschlager extends his arm and allows Millie to slowly sniff his hand. She's now allowing herself to be loved. 

"It's calming and I feel this self-accomplishment when she is calm and listens to my direction," Schaubschlager said. 

Across the corral where Millie is being trained are Victor Alcocer and his horse Fiona and Joshua Burbaker and his horse Duke. 

Before Burbaker was a Marine, he was a cowboy. 

After a dismounted improvised explosive device left him as a double amputee, Burbaker often wondered how'd he get back to riding. 

"I knew I was going to ride again, it was just a matter of how, not so much of when," Burbaker said. 

For Burbaker, equine therapy has given him a chance to get back to who he was. 

And his disability isn't stopping him. 

"If I let my injury change who I am, both emotionally and physically, I pretty much let the people who did this to me win, and I refuse to let them win," he said. "They may have slowed me down but they haven't stopped me."

As Alcocer brushes down Fiona near the stables, he talks about the partnership that has made therapeutic riding possible in Bakersfield. 

About a year and a half ago, The Wounded Heroes Fund and M.A.R.E. collaborated in hopes of helping local veterans with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. 

Three veterans have already been through the equine program and the hope is this form of therapy will peek the interest of more.

"There's a military brotherhood and then there's a veteran brotherhood," Alcocer said. "Whether someone is going through depression or PTSD, we are here to help."

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