Last year, there were more than 27 million veterans in the United States with 4 million of those having a service-connected disability, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics .

Many of those men and women are in Montana.

Montana has over one third of the region’s veterans with Billings being home to one quarter of the state’s veterans. This translates to approximately 3,500 veterans in the Billings area having service related disabilities.

And, many of them are receiving therapy near Billings with the help of horses, the very animal that has provided service to this nation’s military since Revolutionary War times, often in the thick of military conflict.

Now horses are lending their spirits in a more healing and peaceful way, providing therapy for today’s veterans.

To witness how horses lend themselves to helping veterans suffering from wounds, PTSD or other service-related injuries, Horses Spirits Healing, a program with more than 10 years experience as an equine therapeutic provider, is hosting an open house on December 19 at the Intermountain Equestrian Center, located at 7256 U.S. Highway 3.

Chris Hondros, Getty Images

The day begins with a noon lunch. An overview of the program will be provided during the meal, which will be followed by lesson demonstrations from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.. Tours of the facility will begin at 3 p.m. with staff on hand to field questions.

“We want the public to see first hand how this program helps our Veterans recover,” said Barb Skelton, who with her husband, Paul Gatzemeier, established the program in 2014. “We’ve got the support of our entire U.S. Congressional delegation — Senators Tester and Daines, and Rep. Zinke — as well Governor Bullock and many locally-elected official.  We want the public to see what they see as the potential for this program to significantly impact our veterans’ health and well being.”

“The need for veteran assistive services is real and significant,” said Gatzemeier in a prepared statement.

In the Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming region, there are nearly 300,000 veterans, according to Gatzemeier. Using the national ratios, we can expect 44,000 of them to have service-related disabilities including PTSD, amputees, spinal cord and traumatic brain injury.