Through experiencing symptoms of trauma, and studying trauma treatment over a 25 year career in mental health, Stewart realized how traumatic experiences underlie many other health conditions. Stewart’s wife, Lelia, is a certified therapeutic riding instructor and a certified Centered Riding® instructor. While participating as a volunteer in sessions with her clients, Stewart was able to see the physical therapy, as well as mental health therapeutic effects such as the return and growth of trust and confidence.

With little resources, but great conviction of the benefits of a trauma-centered therapy, Stewart delved into research while seeing clients free of charge. In 2010, Stewart became certified in the Trauma Resiliency Model and Lelia became a certified as a therapeutic riding instructor. They began collaborating to develop a program that would benefit trauma victims and survivors.

In 2011, Stewart met a Viet Nam era US Marine combat veteran whose son is a US Marine combat veteran, who completed two tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The father and son’s intimate knowledge and struggles with PTSD, combined with Stewart’s training in trauma treatment, made a natural alliance to form a nonprofit organization to focus on the treatment of PTSD for veterans.

Early in 2014, the nonprofit was applied for and eventually obtained in October of the same year. Due to changing family needs, the Quirk families relocated to South Carolina, and were instrumental in assisting Operation Pegasus to relocate to the present location at Blackberry Stables at Newfound in Leicester, NC, a 120-acre farm with a 12 stall barn, arena, round pen, riding trails through the woods, parking area for horse trailers, and a farm house complete with a therapy office.

Thanks to the many contributors who volunteered to help, the initial mission of OP continues to grow to serve victims of traumatic experiences

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