Washington, D.C. — Today, Animal Wellness Action, the Animal Wellness Foundation, American Horse Protection Society, and Horses for Life Foundation applauded U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, for shepherding to passage an amendment increasing funding for equine assisted therapy for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Adaptive Sports Grant Program by $5 million. The measure passed the House of Representatives late last week by a voice vote. This provision was adopted along with a number of bipartisan horse-related amendments to H.R. 7608 — the State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for FY 2021.
Barr’s amendment increases funding for the VA to provide grants to organizations offering equine assisted therapy to disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces. Barr’s Congressional District houses a number of facilities that offer equine assisted therapy.
“We applaud Rep. Andy Barr for shepherding this vitally important measure to passage and are grateful to see this convergence of good news and good programs to benefit both veterans and horses,” said Marty Irby, Executive Director at Animal Wellness Action. “Equine assisted therapy provides much-needed relief for our American heroes that have served this country and offers a second career for many equines that stand the risk of ending up in the slaughter pipeline.”
“We’re very thankful for Congressman Barr’s dedicated leadership to help our nation’s veterans have increased access to equine therapy,” said Allondra Stevens, Founder of Horses For Life Foundation. “This healing modality is proven to be profoundly beneficial for PTSD and other psycho-emotional conditions. Further, these programs often employ horses that have been rescued themselves. We could not be more pleased to see Representative Barr’s amendment pass which will allocate more funding for this important work.”
“We’re so grateful for Rep. Barr’s support of veterans and the equine community and appreciate his tremendous leadership on this issue,” said Hampton Reid, Chairman of the Board at the American Horse Protection Society. “Our American heroes and iconic equines will greatly benefit from this additional funding.”
“This important funding will help ensure that veterans in Kentucky and across the country have increased access to equine assisted therapy programs through the VA, giving them a non-traditional, innovative and alternative approach to healing,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky. “As a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus, I look forward to continuing to see the positive results this evidence-based equine-assisted therapy provides our veterans.”
During his tenure in the U.S. House, Rep. Barr has been a leading advocate for innovative therapies that allow veterans with mental, social or physical impairments to work with horses on their road to recovery, and in January, hosted a field hearing in Lexington, Kentucky in conjunction with the Congressional Horse Caucus that he co-chairs to highlight the benefits of equine assisted therapy.
The FY2021 spending package also included amendments for $11 million in PZP birth control for wild horse and burro populations on public lands; $1 million for USDA’s Office of Inspector General to crackdown on violators of the Horse Protection Act and other animal cruelty laws; and $750,000 for USDA’s Office of Inspector General to complete an audit of APHIS’ Horse Protection Program and Slaughter Horse Transport Program no later than July 31, 2021.