I never knew I could learn something from a horse, but in adolescent rehab, our frequent visits to the horses at equine therapy became my favorite part of the week. By working with the gigantic horses, I learned vital tools for my sobriety, such as patience, boundaries, and confidence. Strangely simple tasks produced mind-blowing outcomes. Somehow, the horses acted as a mirror, showing me my own insecurities and strengths. The horses seemed to sense what I needed, and I learned to see parts of myself within them. They too had been rescued, and it really felt like we were helping each other. The incredible Malibu view and the strong connection we developed with the animals really made me feel good for one of the first times in a long time.
I still think about the tools I learned at equine therapy. Learning how to cooperate in a group setting with such large animals really helped with my interpersonal communication skills- something I was severely lacking when I came to treatment. Instead of using my words, I turned uncomfortable feelings inward, which festered and came out as my addiction, my eating disorder, or self injury. Working with the horses helped me to feel more confident; the simple connection with such a huge animal was a stepping stone to developing human relationships. When I feel anxious, I imagine the strange calm that settled over me whenever I was with the horses. I imagine their silky coats and the way they smell. I pretend I am with the horses and whatever is bothering me usually lightens its grip on my mind. I am so glad to have had the great opportunity to learn from these animals.