So now you know. And knowing is half the battle!
Okay, moving on. Besides learning about horses, equine therapy has been more helpful to me than any other therapy I've been in so far! Before, when I was in regular counseling or psychotherapy, I would just sit there and talk with the person, and I always felt so uncomfortable and hyperactive. Because you're sitting on a couch, with a table and a box of Kleenex in front of you, and the therapist is sitting across from you, listening to you intently and taking notes. And I would spend the whole time rocking and stimming and not really getting much out of the experience. The counselor could tell me ways of handling my anxiety, and I would nod, but I wouldn't be able to use them in my real life.
In equine therapy it is totally different. I am standing up and moving around, interacting with a horse. I never feel rocky or stimmy or jumpy at all... I feel a sense of calm as soon as I enter the barn!
One thing I am working on learning is being more confident and taking charge of my own life, and leadership skills that could help me at work and in the rest of my life. So today it was so nice out, and we were outside instead of in Brownie's stall. Julie (not her real name) asked me to try leading Brownie with her rope thing. But Brownie was like, "I'm actually just going to stay here and eat hay off the ground, okay?" I pulled gently on the rope and coaxed Brownie to come, but she was gobbling up hay and paying no attention to me. I petted Brownie on her neck and asked her to please come with me, but she was still captivated by the hay. I tried this multiple times, giving the rope a gentle tug and giving the horse a gentle pat. But it didn't work!
Eventually Julie showed me a better way. She just took the rope, which is around the horse's head, and pulled her head up! Brownie looked a little surprised, but not scared, hurt or mad.
I was still cautious, but Julie told me it was okay to pull harder on the rope. So I gave the rope a pull with all my strength - which isn't much. And Brownie started following me! I didn't have to keep pulling the whole time as if I was tugging a boat to shore or something. I just gave her one strong pull, and then she walked right next to me.
As it turned out, since Brownie is a giant horse and not a small dog, when I was giving her gentle tugs on her rope, she didn't really pay much attention to it... it was nothing more than a fly landing on her! When I petted her and talked kindly to her, I was just making her hay-eating time more enjoyable and relaxing. It wasn't until I gave the rope a strong tug, that Brownie even realized I was asking her to walk with me! Once she understood what I was asking her, she walked,.If she stopped, I just gave her another tug to remind her! We walked all around the fenced-in area, twice, together. The first time, I was a little nervous, which may be why Brownie kept stopping. The second time, I was calmer, and more confident that Brownie would follow me, and I guess she was more confident that I was a leader!
The lesson I started learning was that I have to be stronger. Well, not exactly stronger. See, a lot of my life I've been so worried about saying or doing the wrong thing and causing the world to come crashing down, so I ended up not saying or doing anything. I'm often in the background of someone else's life, trying to do damage control for them, instead of moving forward in my own life. In a way, I am often invisible. I have to learn to start actually pushing and pulling and existing in the world.
It could also be a lesson in working with kids. I've been told a lot that I'm not firm enough with the kids. And it is probably true that, in some of the places I've worked, people were more strict and harsh with the kids than necessary, but on the other hand I'm sometimes too quiet and gentle with them. What they need is just a firm tug and a confident leader.
Okay. So I have to go