The Five Star Riding Club, which meets at the Fort Hood Hunt and Saddle Club, is something new that has developed at the Great Place, in an effort to make life better for, not only Fort Hood Soldiers, but others as well.

The group comes together with their own horses and spend time helping each other and think of ways to impact the community.

Master Sgt. Quincy Forte, 11th Military Police Battalion, founder of the Five Star Riding Club, has worked with horses all of his life. He’s been in the Army for 20 years and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. Not only did he want to help change people’s lives with horses, but he also wanted the club to extend their hand out to the community.

“I … wanted to build something, build families, let the kids have something to do, keep it family oriented,” Forte said of why he wanted to create the club. “I think this could be great for the community, giving back. Getting Soldiers involved, going to feed the needy ...”

When he was younger, tending to horses was just a chore to him, but now it has become so much more.

“Now it’s a passion. It’s a desensitizer for me because when nobody else understands, I go out there and it seems like he (the horse) can understand,” Forte stated. “Just going to him and putting my trust in an animal. The whole riding is just clearing your mind – you’re on the back of your horse just relaxing. It’s therapeutic, very therapeutic – when no one else understands that animal understands.”

When asked what makes him believe the horse understands him, Forte was quick to answer.

“Most of these horses that we picked up were not treated well. So, we brought them back to life,” Forte said. “None of the horses we have were up to par when we bought them. We put a lot of time (and) feed into them to gain their trust. They trust us.”

Lt. Col. Paul Otto, III Corps chief of fires, is excited to be a part of the group, and hopes that the camaraderie will provide Soldiers and veterans a way to express their feelings instead of internalizing them.

“The things we go through – we internalize it. We don’t necessarily share it, but when we become a band of brothers and sisters and we’re doing things like this, we get to talking and opening up and sharing those experiences,” Otto said.

The club consists of veterans and active duty Soldiers with well over 175 combined years of service allowing for a diverse set of perspectives and stories. Otto believes working with the horses allows those effected by post-traumatic stress disorder to focus on something other than their struggles.

“I’m going through my own pain as well,” Otto admitted. “I feel so relaxed when I am here around the animals because they have and acuity that is ten times higher than a dog. They can pick up on your fear, they can pick up on whether you’re good or bad spirited. So that trust, when they really trust you, you feel a sense of calmness. Just the fact of knowing that a horse depends on you daily. It’s good.”

For information on joining the Five Star Riding Club and their future events please call Kenneth Williams,

club president, at 254-702-0267.