While riding his Harley-Davidson along the back roads of Colorado during a heavy wind storm, Air Force veteran Glenn Weissel, co-owner of Harmony’s Heart Coaching in Elbert, had an epiphany.
Weissel, a certified life coach and equine assisted coach, along with his wife Ashara Morris, started Harmony’s Heart about seven years ago, and on that windy day as he focused to navigate his motorcycle safely, Weissel said he realized he needed to do more to help fellow veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It took strength of will, determination and a commitment to improve my riding skills to push my envelope in the environmental conditions,” said Weissel. “The vision of helping veterans and first responders was given to me as I rode. I knew then as I now know that this is my mission, my purpose, my reason for being.”
The Wind Rider project was born, and has grown to encompass active military, veterans transitioning to civilian life, and first responders who suffer from PTSD. Weissel offers his services free of charge to help those struggling, and enlists the help of his equine friends, or his “healing herd,” to teach his clients how to cope with their issues.
Weissel and Morris utilize a therapy called Equine Gestalt life coaching, which combines the psychotherapeutic approach of Gestalt therapy with the experiential therapy of working with horses.
“Our horses are active partners during your coaching sessions. Together we help you identify and drop unfinished business that holds you back from fulfilling your dreams and your life purpose. Together we support your journey,” said Weissel.
Weissel suffers from PTSD himself, and has experienced the benefits of equine therapy in his own life.
“What we like to do is help uncover what the source of the stress is about, and help our clients release and get in touch with the underlying feeling and emotions that they have associated with the stress,” said Weissel.
The Wind Rider Project teaches mindfulness meditation, which reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and increases awareness. The program also includes journaling, individual coaching sessions and group interactions. And of course, there is time spent with the horses, which clients say is comforting and beneficial.
Previous client Paula K worked with Wilma, a member of the healing herd.
“I found my time working with Ashara and Wilma to be a heart opening experience. In one day not only did I gain the confidence to feel secure around a large house, but also found my way to accepting the things I cannot change,” said Paula.
Veterans, active military personnel or first responders interested in taking advantage of the free services should visit www.thewindriderproject.com.