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One Woman's Story of recovery & strength:
"My Husband, Phil, after hearing me lament about parenting issues and knowing my frustrations, made a profound statement to me. He said, "you need to go get back on that horse." I knew exactly what he meant, and the work that lay ahead of me.
We had traveled to a Dude Ranch in Steamboat Springs, a year ago and gone on a great trail ride. The following day I wanted to do the ride again. I was paired with a horse who read my energy, and knew immediately that I was easily swayed. He made several movements that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. My fight or flight response in turn was to get off the horse, as I became terrified. Guess who did not have to go for a trail ride? Intelligent equis sensed my lack of ease and confidence and learned that I was not a good leader. I am by nature a calm and non reactionary or confrontational person. I have struggled in the past with issues relating to being assertive and having boundaries. This has extended in work environments as well as my family dynamics. It has been challenging at times for me to remain consistent and set good boundaries in disciplinary situations with my teenager children. I had to go get on the horse and be consistent, confident and in control of myself. I sought out equine therapists in April, in my region and began the transformation and process of facing yet another fear. This was a new challenge that I had no preconceived notions or beliefs. What I did know, was that I was fearful just being in the same space as a horse. After the initial intake and personal life review, I began the process of selecting a horse to work with. After two week sessions I picked an older Gelding, named Drakos. Drakos challenged me, and I challenged Drakos. I came to the barn afraid and completely insecure around horses, with a few negative experiences already in repertoire.
We spent many hours engaged in simple groundwork - horsemanship 101.
There were days of frustration. I would however always leave with a sense of incredible peace and hope. As though my spirit was being found. Drakos and I spent many weeks doing the beneficial work of forming a relationship and earning and learning to trust one another. I was eventually comfortable walking him around on a lead rope. He challenged me with every step we took together. Horses have an insatiable desire for grass. I learned how to gently and assertively take the lead and let him know that it was not ok to graze at his discretion. I did not use force, 105 lb woman and 1200 lb horse - we know who would win the physical battle. The epiphany came when I talked to him and shifted my energy and breath to a calm and confident place, therein lies the leader. Drakos responded and learned that I was shifting and growing. He no longer pulled and tugged as my confidence and energy displayed this transformation. I found my voice with my therapeutic horse.
Drakos did not like being away from his herd. Horses are herd animals, and the fight or flight response is a basic survival mechanism evident in all horses. He experienced severe separation anxiety when removed from the barn and taken into the arena. This was not an unrealistic request on my behalf to connect with me for 45 minutes. I learned to apply the principles of pressure and release with Drakos. He would ignore me in the round pen, I would increase the pressure. I felt him resist, I maintained the pressure. When he showed cooperated and engaged me, the pressure was released. What a beautiful experience it was to have him come to me and engage me. Music is also incorporated into this model and serves as a powerful emotional tool connecting horse and rider. I was able to select songs from different times in my life that elicited a myriad of emotions from joy to intense sadness. I dug deep, I shared intense pain and dark night of my soul was revealed and exposed. I made another soulful connection with a horse named Mac. When on Macs back riding to the music, a transformation occurred that was both mystical and magical. Though I did not realize at the time, a profound shift in my thoughts and feelings had occurred.
I am proud of the progress I have made personally, and in the saddle. I am able to change my thoughts, be a gentle and firm leader. I have noticed distinct changes in what I now know were self defeating thought patterns that I carried with me for so many years. I am free of those chains and negative self talk . The most significant psychological change I experience almost daily now is to not take on other peoples stuff. I am not to blame for their responses or reactions. They own their stuff, I own mine. It is not between me and them, it is between themselves and God. How liberating this space is. I now have the energy to focus, be present and provide compassionate care-giving. I no longer need others approval for my self worth, I do not feel guilty setting boundaries, I feel proud and happy with myself in this present moment.
I love being outdoors in nature. Colorado provides the perfect elements for an outdoor lover as myself. We have majestic mountains, four distinct seasons with Aspen trees that take your breath away.Bluebird skies, the feel of the dirt on my hands, the sweat on my brow, the smell of horse on me, is a place I have grown to love and crave. The horses cadence is one with the natural world and authentic and present. This symbiotic union honors both our spirits.
I have found that a sacred space of balance and harmony is shared when present with the horse. My energy is restored and renewed. I breathe on a guttural level, and am revitalized and invigorated. I crave to be in the presence of the mystical horse. I leave behind the past, the future does not occupy my minds space. Here I am truly free and be.
The patience, knowledge, compassion and non judgmental support of Carina and Dana were always with me. I am eternally grateful for their guidance, and expertise. I am a new woman. Old patterns in thought and behavior no longer exist. I am lighter and free. I attribute this to the companioning that Carina and Dana provided, coupled,with the gracious healing the horses offer. This inspiration and exhilaration is directly attributed to the work we did together. I now have a new love in Mac and I am learning to trot. The expectations I had are far exceeded in this journey. My therapeutic sessions with Carina and Dana have been life altering. Confront your fears, let go and live and love to your fullest. You too will feel freedom, grace and divine love in the company of horses." - A
A Mother comments on her daughter's experience:
"Thank you for all you do. I think you're amazing and my daughter truly loves you. You've made a huge difference in my little girl's life and for that I'm deeply grateful. Thank you for working with me on the rate so I can continue to afford this. I want her to stick with it and with you because I see all the great things changing and happening. I believe in my daughter and I believe in this process. I will support this endlessly. Equine therapy is a life saver.
Reports from participants in the programs with RMEAP:
The equine program with RMEAP has helped me to:
“Improve my social skills, and how I advocate for help.”
“It has made me create/set realistic goals, but pace myself when it is necessary.”
“Learn to be more patient; to breathe when stressed or frustrated.”
“Learn about who I am and who I want to become in life.”
“Understand how others feel like I did with my horse.”
“Get out of my comfort zone and take positive risks.”
“Be more open-minded to learning new things.”
“Learn self control and relaxation skills.”
Reports from therapists who participated in programs with RMEAP
The equine program with RMEAP helped my client to:
“Learn to communicate in different ways rather than bullying.”
“Learn that communication is more than just words, and that he needs to adapt to others when communicating.”
“Learn emotional regulation and open up in therapy.”
“Step outside of his comfort zone, speak in front of others, learn assertiveness with his horse”
“Recognize what a healthy emotional relationship feels and looks like.”
Testimonials & Articles about RMEAP