Testimonial by a 16- year- old student: What Horses Can Also Do!
As a former student of a colleague, I was allowed to experience and enjoy the horse therapy offered.
Because I come from extremely difficult family circumstances, I have to fight severe depression, which because of so much academic pressure in school became worst. In addition, I had a lot of private issues which pulled stability right out from under me from one day to the next.
Absolutely desperate I talked to our schools’ social worker (counselor) Chris who stood by my side with advice and actions. When we discussed therapy options, she mentioned horse therapy which was supported by the school.
In the beginning, I was very skeptical because I had many experiences with talk therapy and most of the time they just made it worst. But that was totally unfair. Gitti, the horse whisperer and the Spanish horse Manolito do not judge. Both pick you up exactly where you are at, in that moment, how you are right now, with all your experiences, fears, and problems. And it shows you: “You are absolutely o.k. I like you the way you are!” The horse did not want to go back again to the event that shook me. The horse accepts you as the person that you simply are.
This ‘being picked up’ at a place in life where one is at, the acceptance, the closeness and trust the horse offers is indescribable. One is in the here and now, but that is totally o.k.
Manolito would never judge you; that is simply not a characteristic of a horse. The build- up of the trust between the horse and client is exactly as one would need it. The horse adjusts to your needs. When you are scared, it is very gentle and careful with you.
To get acceptance, love, warmth, and closeness from such a large animal, right where you are at, is absolutely wonderful. The physical movement, the work with the horse, the horseback riding, to lose fears, to show boundaries, but also to learn bravery to overcome boundaries- I could have never learned that like I did through the therapy.
Horses are very sensitive and can feel the smallest motion. Your shoulders are slouching; Therefore, the ‘door’ is open? That is when the horse will take advantage and bug you with it. It sensitizes you; it shows you to be brave and that it is good to be yourself- that you are wonderful and you are allowed to arrive.
Through this kind of therapy, we learn through play. You interact very differently with your fears.
I often think back at this time; When it becomes challenging in the university, with friends, or at work, when one is scared to follow through, I can feel that it makes a difference if the shoulders slouch, or if the body is straight, shoulders back and strong. Body language is so important, and so is acceptance and bravery. If I did not have this opportunity, I would still go from talk therapy to talk therapy without noticeable results.
The support for this kind of work is necessary. Everyone should be able to be picked up where one is in life and move forward from there. Everybody should be exposed to such experience.
I am so grateful to Gitti and her work, that I was able to experience it. It is still helping me today.