Finding Hope and Healing Through the Way of the Horse
Eponaquest Equine Facilitated Learning
“Mary” is a 14 year old girl, rescued from the sex trade industry in Costa Rica. She has been cared for at Salvando Corazones, a safe house for abuse survivors. At Salvando Corazones she began her education and supportive therapies to help her recover from a life of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by her own family who then forced her into sex slavery.
She participants in Eponaquest Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) at Leaves and Lizards Retreat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. The healing presence of horses helps individuals to dig deep within themselves and move through traumatic experiences toward hope and healing. Using the horse is an integral part of the process, because if the person is not congruent, the horse illuminates the incongruence by tossing their head, nudging the individual or using other displays of ‘misbehavior’. The horse mirrors the emotion being felt by the participant. The electromagnetic energy generated by our heart changes with our emotional state. Horses, through their 50 million years of evolution as a subject of prey, have developed a keen sense of these shifts for the purpose of self preservation. EFEL facilitators identify behaviors from the horse that may point out incongruencies and help the individual identify emotions elicited from an exercise. One of Eponaquest’s foundation exercises uses horses to help us understand our ‘False or Conditioned Self’ and our ‘True or Authentic Self’.
In this exercise “Mary” created a painting of her False Self on her horse and her True Self on her face and then explained to the group what her drawings represented.
“My False Self was confused, it didn’t know where to go, who to believe. It didn’t know who she was or what was to become of her. (The horse nods his head as she speaks) I illustrated her here, in this tree. The branches of the tree represent the people in my life that tired to control me and hold me in places I did not want to be.” (The horse turns his head and gives her a nudge with his muzzle)
Prodded on by the horse, she continues, tears begin to well up in her eyes: “They tried to push me and make me into something I knew I wasn’t. It was as if I didn’t know if I had paws, fins, was a snake or had a tail. I was being manipulated into becoming someone I didn’t know. I drew this creature, my False Self, falling out of the tree; the branches cannot hold her any longer. She is freeing herself of the tree that held her captive. She is falling into a river and the water is washing all the hurt away. ” (The horse is now licking and chewing, and then he yawns)
“I have worked very hard this year, it was not easy, to free myself from these old beliefs. It was so difficult. I give advice to the new girls in the house, I warn them to be ready for a fight if they want to be free from the old thoughts.”
She pauses, the horse lowers his head, relaxes, her eyes shine with intensity as she begins again,” My Authentic Self, my True Self is like a lion. (The horse shifts his position and gently rests his muzzle on her shoulder as she speaks) A lion is confident and doesn’t let others change who they are, a lion knows they are a lion. A lion strives for what they want and doesn’t let fear stand in their way. Lions take care of others in their group. I know who I am. I am a lioness. I am a warrior and I will never give up.”
Learn More About How Horses Are Helping to Heal: Click Here for Video.