I went to Oxbow Ranch, home of Rainhorse (www.rainhorse.org), to find out more about Maria Lisa Eastman and her horses. Rainhorse provides several equine assisted counseling and learning programs in the area, and I couldn't wait to learn more. Maria was gracious enough to not only show me around the ranch and explain their programs, but also to allow me to experience some equine magic—er, therapy.
Somehow, the therapy horses know which clients need them. For instance, Emmy had a past full of abuse and neglect, so she often chooses kids or adults who need healing from similar trauma. She also suffers from arthritis and has been known to choose people who are living with chronic pain.
To my surprise, Emmy, Brego, Daylight, and Finnegan all chose me. At first, I thought, Wow, this is cool. All these horses really like me. Then it dawned on me that perhaps they thought that I was a real headcase and needed all the help I could get!
It was so difficult to select “my” horse from these dear volunteers. Emmy was sweet and pretty; Brego was charming and handsome; Daylight was beautiful and said to be a star therapist. But Finnegan, a sorrel Thoroughbred, planted herself right beside me and seemed to really want me to halter her, so off to the round pen we went.
Fifteen minutes with Finn revealed that she and I have a lot in common. We’re gentle, but certain triggers elicit fear, causing us to overreact. We’ve experienced rejection and exploitation. We lack confidence and aren’t always sure just who we are. We can’t get enough approval and acceptance.
My heart filled up and my eyes spilled over with an odd mishmash of relief, empathy, sorrow, gratitude, joy and love. I’ve worked with horses for years, but I’ve never made that kind of soul connection with a horse—or person, for that matter—in only 15 minutes.
My warmest thanks to Maria and Finn!
(For a wonderful read about horses as healers, I recommend Hope Rising by Kim Meeder.)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” –MATTHEW 5:3 (ESV)