This Organization Uses Retired Racehorses To Change Veterans' Lives

Out Side In pairs thoroughbreds with therapy patients to give both purpose.

Winston Churchill once said that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. Jennifer McVoy took this idea and galloped with it, creating Out Side In, a Grand Haven, Michigan-based equine therapy group that connects people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with retired racehorses. Individuals are matched with a thoroughbred from the program, and then taught how to take care of them. The bond formed goes both ways: The person gives the horse the calming attention they need, and in turn the horse soothes the person. The calming effect that a pair can have on one another is tangible.

This is especially powerful for veterans coming back from active duty, transitioning from a high-adrenaline atmosphere to a less intense day-to-day life, and a world in which they may feel out of place. The group provides more than 5,000 therapy hours a year, serving veterans, therapy-resistant kids and elders, according to McVoy.

On behalf of her work with Out Side In, Jennifer McVoy is one of the 100 people being honored as part of the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program. We have partnered with TIAA to share her inspiring story. Check out the video above to learn more about how Out Side In facilitates a meaningful and lasting bond between horse and human, bringing a renewed sense of purpose to both.

“We always tell them, a horse doesn’t care what you’re wearing, what your parents do, about your past. They know you for who you are,” McVoy said. “And that’s what matters.”

To celebrate its centennial, TIAA is honoring 100 people working to make positive and lasting change in the lives of others with awards of $10,000 each. Jennifer McVoy is one of those being honored. McVoy plans to use the award money to lower costs for her program and serve more veterans. We have partnered with TIAA to put the spotlight on McVoy’s story, and on other stories like hers. To learn more about the program, and the amazing work the rest of the honorees are doing, visit:

Words by Kase Wickman