Niles quickly snatched peppermint candies from Joan Peterson’s hand, and then the big horse moved his head back toward the woman for more treats as she walked into his stall.

Within the next month, Niles and two other recently rescued thoroughbreds will partner with veterans for a new program, called Horses for Heroes, at Out Side In Stables in Grand Haven Township. The equine-assisted psychotherapy program pairs former racehorses with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional and mental challenges.

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