Is a horse therapy? Well actually, it is. There are many animals that are therapeutic beyond the domesticated cats and dogs. When I worked in the foster care system, I used horses to connect and teach children of abuse. Horses by nature are fearful. They have few real means of protecting themselves short of running. This is what makes horseback riding so dangerous. If they are frightened, they can buck you off and run away. This is the quality that makes horses perfect to work with people who also want to buck and run.
I have been certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) since 2008 and have been using it (off and on) in my clinical practice since 2011. Recently, I took my clinical team to a ranch where they could experience first-hand the wonders of EAP.
One participant, Rizza Sarmiento (pictured) is a student at National University and has been volunteering with Encouragers for the past year. She shared she had no experience around horses and was a little timid about what to expect. At one point she said, "I was terrified...," but by the end of the 2-hour training, she said she began to enjoy the experience. A week later she sent me this photo of her and Brandy, a Thoroughbred she is now taking horseback riding lessons with. Rizza, and many others learned how to face their fears and come out on the other side - fearless.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified
because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)