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Updated: Oct 25, 2022

collage of photos of students participating in equestrian events

You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. This age adage is true on many levels, and the fact of the matter is that these majestic creatures give immediate feedback to those who are working with them. Cascade Crest Transitions has been working with a local equine facility, Healing Reins, to provide Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and is in its third 10-week rotation. Due to the sensitive nature of this therapy, we utilize the assistance of the professionals at Healing Reins as well as local therapist Lisa Bradley who is trained and certified in this unique specialty.

The foundations of this therapy revolve around relationships, attachment, and the ability to attune to the horse. Horses can be an incredible biofeedback instrument – they pick up on any emotions or sensations that we bring into the arena. This provides our students with the challenge of truly dropping what is going on in their lives and asks them to be present with their horse. This instinctual attunement to their leader is phenomenal to witness. As such, it can bring up a lot of secondary emotions from our students as it relates to having expectations of their animal and not having these expectations met, or contrarily a lot of smiles and excitement when the horse is responsive to their requests.

Week after week there is a genuine excitement to interact with their horse and a “letting go” of whatever frustrations life has tossed their way in the previous week. Watching the relationships develop between humans and horses is remarkable, and something that is hard-wired deep into our fabric in similar ways to how we connect with pets. While it is common to be nervous or even terrified of these huge creatures it typically does not take long for even the most anxious of our students to be able to begin approaching and taking small steps towards finding more comfort in the horses than fear and anxiety.

I continue to be excited to see how fast our students move as it comes to their time in the arena and the application of the lessons they learn each week. There seems to be a motivation for change that is internal and can be brought back into sessions week after week as well. I believe that so much of life is about connection and the ability to effectively communicate. It is fun to see how spending time with horses can lead to greater appreciation for how necessary it is for us to be in attuned to what is going on for us and what we need to let go of in order to be in relationship with those around us.

– Written by Corey May, CCT Therapist

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