National Guard Medics Unwind With Horse Therapy At Maryland Stables The medics, from the 1st Battalion 224th Medical Company, are supporting Maryland's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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National Guard Medics Unwind With Horse Therapy At Maryland Stables

U.S. Army Capt. Brandon F. Williams, a behavioral health officer, brushes Summer's mane at Oatland Stables in Gaithersburg. Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment hide caption

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Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

A group of Maryland National Guard medical personnel took a break from the frontlines of the local COVID-19 response to clear their heads with a little equine-assisted therapy.

The medics, from the 1st Battalion 224th Medical Company, are supporting Maryland's response to the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Army Capt. Brandon Williams, a behavioral health officer with the group, initiated the visit to Oatland Stables in Gaithersburg.

Williams said he hoped seeing and interacting with the horses would give his soldiers a chance to unwind.

"It's easy for people to become a little frustrated or irate because there is a lot of uncertainty," Williams said. "I actually do a little bit of animal therapy myself and since the horses are here and the stables are close I asked if they were open to some equine therapy."

Members of the 244th Medical Company have been activated since the middle of March. The group set up tents outside of the emergency room at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center in Silver Spring and provided 30 medical soldiers to support the hospital staff with triage.

Soldiers were able to brush and pet the horses while practicing social distancing. Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment hide caption

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Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

But this week, they were able to brush and pet the horses, learning about their care and maintenance in groups of five while practicing social distancing.

"When you're out there, and you feel the brush, and the horse's breath, and look into their kind eyes, it just helps you relax."

Star Dalley owns the business, which primarily operates stable rentals and riding lessons for students from American University and the University of Maryland. But after Governor Larry Hogan's stay-at-home order, business all but ceased. Dalley now maintains her own 26 horses, and welcomed the soldiers for the first time to the stables.

The stables are adjacent to the Olney Military Reservation where the group is based.

"They said their soldiers needed a break and they're literally in our backyard. We were happy to help these people who are out there experiencing things none of us have ever been through," Dalley said.

Pfc. Wayra C. Cerda meets Summer. Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment hide caption

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Courtesy of/Sgt. James Nowell-Coleman, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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