VICTORIA -- The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association (CTRA) is offering a one-day workshop for first responders in the Cowichan Valley to promote mental health and effective stress management for people in high-pressure jobs.

According to the CTRA, interaction with horses has been shown to alleviate stress, lower blood pressure and improve mental health.

"These benefits are especially important for first responders who often experience post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, and other side effects from their high-stress jobs," said the CTRA in a news release Tuesday.

The workshop is available to all first responders, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics in the Cowichan Valley. 

Staff-Sgt. Chris Swain of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, who has volunteered with the CTRA before, says that the workshop is an excellent opportunity for first responders and will hopefully expose them to a new avenue of mental health support.

"Horses are proven to be able to assist in all types of therapy for people of all ages," said Swain. "I am excited to work closely with CTRA in creating this opportunity, hoping that it benefits the men and women that serve our community in this way."

The one-day horse workshop will take place on Saturday, March 21.