Brad Myers of Conifer is a third generation veteran and horseman. Growing up in Michigan, his grandfather Sanderson taught him how to communicate with horses through true horsemanship techniques that lined up with those of Bill Dorrance, Marty Marten and Buck Brannaman. As a veteran, his family members have served in all branches of the military, Brad being the first Marine.
Brad has combined and morphed his passion for horses and veterans into what is today, Operation Silver Spurs (OSS). Based out of a facility on Pleasant Park Road, Operation Silver Spurs also travels the country to different venues, ranches and facilities for various purposes serving veterans. OSS helps to promote the “warrior spirit” and give veterans a new mission as civilians.
Starting at the age of 16, Brad envisioned a working ranch retreat where people come retreat, recharge, reconnect and experience the life of the cowboy. From there he served as a Marine, worked in information technology, and was a Project Manager for the University of Colorado. He is an outdoorsman and an accomplished public speaker. He received his BS in Leadership and Organizational Management from Colorado Christian University and has been apprenticed in The Cowboy Way, The Lakota Way, The Ancient Wisdom of the Toltec’s and The Power of Belief. When he was on a seven day Toltec Trek in Mexico, he had an epiphany that the horse teaches what he learned on this ancient journey.
He pulls from all of those experiences in his life while incorporating the legacy of his family and mentors by intentionally carrying on patriotism, character, perseverance, vision, honor, ancient wisdom, true horsemanship and the pursuit of our passions. He recognizes that his journey through life, both good and bad, can all be used to help others.
While giving horsemanship clinics, the participants would tell Brad that they not only learned to work with their horse better, but the way that he communicated principles helped them learn new things about themselves. A couple of veterans heard about his clinics and said that he needed to do some kind of training like this for soldiers coming home from war. Veterans understand training, as training is a key aspect of military life, and Brad sees OSS as another building block in the military training.
Veterans are trained to be warriors and often when they are not serving, they are expected to suppress the warrior part of themselves. OSS seeks to celebrate the warrior spirit in veterans by helping them focus those leadership skills and qualities within them into being leaders in their personal and work lives. Brad explains, in the process of learning to ride a horse with true horsemanship skills, you learn a new way to apply your warrior leadership skills to civilian life. A main concern with horses as prey animals is their own safety and survival. As veterans build a partnership with the horse, success comes when the horse finds the veteran as the leader to get them to safety. Horses are magical in their nature and can bring out things in a person that no other animal can. They are true, do not judge, reflect your feelings and live completely in the moment.
Brad describes training with OSS as “Warrior Horsemanship. The power of partnering with a horse is more than riding, guided or independently. The spirit of the bond with the horse in ultimate partnership is only available through true fundamental horsemanship skills. These skills are easily acquired and provide phenomenal results, directly impacting our warrior spirit and leadership traits.”
OSS is for all veterans, from any war, male or female, and those with physical or mental challenges. This year OSS added all female camps. OSS takes a different angle from traditional equine assisted therapy. In OSS, the horses are the teachers and Brad serves as an interpreter to facilitate that the wisdom and power that comes from the horse is recognized.
The length and intensity of training sessions vary, but the experience is intensive participation. Veterans start with safety training, caring for the horse and grooming, communicating and working the horse from the ground and eventually to independent riding.
Whether the OSS trainees chose to make horses a part of their daily live or not, Brad believes that “the experience of training with the horses is a bridge to help my fellow warriors from where they are to experiencing a new ‘dream’ in their lives. To use their warrior spirit and all the character and value from their military experience in their new mission as a civilian. To see this as an opportunity to lead and still serve. I see my job as communicating what it takes to work with a horse in order to create a personal awareness that in turn provides people with the tools to integrate new agreements and beliefs into their lives.”
After OSS participants have expressed a new ability to apply their military leadership experience to civilian life, gained significant cross-generational veteran relationships, experienced a successful transition from military experience to civilian opportunity, and significant veteran to veteran trust and communication.
OSS also offers certification programs for ambassadors, veterans, facilities and horses in order to fill the need for veterans in different areas. Many facilities that already serve veterans bring in OSS to enhance their curriculum to truly communicate with the warrior spirit in veterans. How can you help you ask? OSS is always looking for venues to hold trainings and retreats, sponsors for events and scholarships. Program format ranges from demonstration days to intensive trips.
For more information go to: www.operationsilverspurs.com, or contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org, Brad Myers 303-332-9230. Heather McWilliams © 2014.