Jo McDowell works with people who have troubles that sometimes no human can heal. God Made a Horse for them…
God made horses to heal wounded hearts. God made horses so kids could pour out their hurt, their loneliness and their rage about abuse, neglect and injustice to the horse, who listens quietly; feeling heard, the child’s bitterness washes away.
I do Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Most sessions start with the kids choosing a horse, haltering that horse, then “walking and talking” to establish a connection. I have overheard many stories as they walk with their horses. One time I heard a 13 yr old girl telling her horse “No one wants me. My grandparents tell me I’m too much work. My parents are in jail.” When she left the session, I overheard her tell her horse, as she hugged it good-bye, “You want me.”
Another time a young girl was playing with one of the horses and she was getting the horse to do things no one had ever accomplished before. I yelled over “Well done! Well done!” She stopped and starred at me with her mouth open for a long moment, then went back to her horse. Later she told me “No one’s ever said ‘well done’ to me before”.
Unfortunately, sometimes things happen. Once, a horse stepped on a girl’s foot. In attending to her, one of the team members said, “It’s so unfortunate that the horse stepped on your foot, but I can’t help but wonder if anyone else is stepping all over you in your life?” At the end of the session that girl said, “I’m rethinking my friendships. I HATE it when I get stepped on.”
When a child partners up with a horse, they leave behind the pain for a time. As they feel a connection with their equine partner, the child learns there can be joy in companionship. And as they come back, week after week, to the same horse, they learn trust, too.
…by Jo McDowell