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Horse Therapy Heals Those In Recovery

09 November 2015 Written by 

The 2000 Sandra Bullock film “28 Days” was the first to show what happens when a person goes to rehab. Bullock plays Gwen Cummings, a hotshot journalist who chooses rehab in lieu of jail time after destroying her sister’s wedding cake and crashing her car while wildly drunk. Equine therapy was among the treatment methods the facility offered, and that horse connection was what turned Gwen around. The film was not a success at the box office, which set back the actual recovery story as a Hollywood staple. The movie was ahead of its time. But Equine therapy, as shown in "28 Days", has grown as a treatment component to lasting recovery. 

How Equine Therapy Works

In the film Gwen learns how to patiently work with a horse, so that she can slow her own pace and learn how to heal. Horses don't go at our pace. In a pivotal scene near the end, Gwen learns to encourage the horse to lift its leg rather than attempting to force it. Such a metaphor for life. 

This Film Inspired Me To Work With Horses

Since seeing the story of how symbiotic and powerful the connection between horse and human can be, I’ve learned firsthand the lessons these four-legged healers have to teach on facing life’s challenges — but facing them at a reasonable pace.

Safe Haven Equine Rescue is a suburban Philadelphia farm that rehabs retired race horses. I discovered it through a friend who rides and volunteers there. I practice Reiki, which is a Japanese energy healing technique. Horses seem to enjoy it as much as people. The first time I visited Safe Haven, I had the pleasure of working with a horse named Rally who had an injured left front leg. Over the few weeks I had with him, there was a distinct change, and not just in him. I too felt healing energy flow between us, as if this massive four-legged being was sending the vibes back to me. Our heartbeats synchronized, and our breathing slowed dramatically. As someone who tends to gallop rather than trot, I was surprised by this lovely shift of being healed as I healed the horse. Since then, I have returned to offer Reiki to Gumby, Rainbow Sprinkles, Bonnie, Cowboy and Uptown Boy. Each time, the benefit has been mutual. Horses have a lot to teach us.

Horses Help With Grief, Too

Recently, I took a dear friend, Yvonne, who had experienced a tremendous loss, her husband of 28 years. Yvonne was tempted to stay home since our visit would be on a painful day: the fifth month anniversary of his passing. She decided to go and was glad she did. Afterward, her smiling face told us both that she had made the right decision. Inhaling the barn smell, which she recalls from her childhood, she talked to and nuzzled with several of the horses. One of them, elderly, visually impaired, Bonnie, has a delightful habit of massaging the neck and back of anyone standing in front of her. This was healing for Yvonne. She and I enjoyed this unique form of inter-species communication.

Horses and Recovery

There is another special reason horses have meaning for us. Yvonne and I have been in recovery for many years and have discovered that time with equines can be incorporated into our programs and are helpful both spiritually and emotionally.

Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Edie Weinstein   

Read 1317 times Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 19:27
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Edie Weinstien

Rev. Edie Weinstein, LSW  is an ‘opti-mystic who views life through the eyes of possibility. Her creative, career and spiritual paths have led her to become a writer, speaker, interfaith minister, reiki master, clown, greeting card text writer and social worker. She engages in life fully, inviting others to join her. As a guide, she holds a mirror up to those with whom she works, so that they may see their own beauty and discover their own answers.
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