Charles was in the Army for twelve years. The first few years saw him visiting Korea, then Germany, then he was sent to Iraq. He left the Army for a while but said he missed the sense of camaraderie which goes with it, so he signed back up. But when he returned to civilian life again, the sense of camaraderie was still missing. He said that he felt a detachment from society, and from other people, even his son. That’s when he began the program at Camp Cowboy and met Hagen, a horse who had sustained an injury to the left side of his face. Charles and Hagen both had scars, and they found camaraderie in each other.
“We have a connection…We both have pain…and you have to find a way to work through it.”
Hagen has taught him a lot about how to approach life as a civilian. Now Charles is able to slow down. Because of his work with Hagen, Charles can now approach things without having to think about them in the Army mindset which comes naturally to him.
“Instead of trying to beat everything into submission, this program helps you deal with life, with animals, in a more respectful and tolerant way.”
Not only has it helped him think more calmly outside of Camp Cowboy, but he said it’s also made him a better father. When he brings his son to Camp Cowboy, he feels like he’s teaching him valuable life skills which his son won’t find in most other places. Charles thinks that something as simple as cleaning stalls for extra money helps his son connect more with the physical world around him. And being around Hagen has taught Charles more about how to be a father.
“Learning more about myself and how to discipline Hagen has been beneficial in raising my son. It’s taught me — kind of like sandpaper — which rough areas that I need to get rid of.”
Now Charles brings his son out to Camp Cowboy on a regular basis, and he’s learned a little bit more about how he can communicate with him. The experiences with Camp Cowboy have brought more connection into his life. We’re happy to be part of that connection.