Looking out over the rolling pasture, I see Tessa, a beautiful Clydesdale grazing in the field for new horses. A gaggle of geese waddle past me to head toward the pond. My eldest two children are nearby, receiving some of the most valuable therapy. We’re at Hope Reins.
The concept is simple: connect kids who have experienced trauma with horses. First, teach them how to care for the horses. Then, learn how to ride them. The catch is that these horses are all rescues and have experienced trauma the children can relate to.
Bonds form as the children work with the horses. Eventually, as they become more comfortable, the children will open up and share their experiences with their new four-legged friends & the volunteers who accompany them.
We’ve been clients of Hope Reins for a number of years now. Our kids have really tough stories from their life before adoption. They’ve experienced things that will be with them for a lifetime. When we first started, our kids were taking all the usual types of therapy. They had every kind you can imagine: behavioral, occupational, speech, trama and even sit on the couch talk therapy. But this was different.
They didn’t have self-confidence. They didn’t have skills all their own. They didn’t feel like anyone could relate to them. But Buddy could. Spirit could. The tendency is to bottle up the emotions and push down the trauma. Our kids are very good at that. But when it’s time to go to meet the horses, we know that they open up with a whisper here and a thought to their horse and their companion.
It’s an outlet for their souls as they continue to process the experiences of their young childhoods. It’s no secret that we’ve had a rough few months. Over the Spring and Summer, our time on the ranch has been more than dealing with past trauma, it’s taking a break – a few moments of peace in the whirlwind. And that peace has extends to us parents.
You see, while the kids are working with their horses, fishing in the pond or tending the community garden, the adults gather under the longleaf pines with listeners. These volunteers come alongside the caregivers to listen, distract with conversation or provide some encouragement for the season. Self-care is a hard lesson to learn.
If you’re struggling with trauma in your child’s life, seek out equine therapy – there’s various kinds all over the country. Most are non-profits, meaning you won’t get a bill for help you can’t put a price tag on. It’s a huge investment of peace into your child’s soul. And yours too.