Why horses can help our teens develop new pathways to happiness, confidence, and connection
I would describe her as confused and fragile when she came to the barn that first time. Things were not going well at school. Friends were "grouping up" with unspoken requirements to think like them, dress like them and do the things they did, or you were out. She was so scared to get it wrong that she became full of anxiety.
School was difficult, and as she was rising grade levels, it was a struggle with her teachers. She just couldn't do well on tests or remember things.
The soccer coach did not like her and although she made the team, she sat on the bench most of the time. On the rare occasion that she did get put in, she was so nervous and under so much pressure, that she would make mistakes.
It seemed as if life was piling on and she was getting smaller, almost sort of shrinking, and more nervous. So her Mom brought her to me. "We want to work on confidence, self esteem, grades, and how to stand up as who she is," explained her Mom. "She needs someone to talk to."
What was happening underneath all of those occurrences was that her brain was forming neural pathways to certain negative patterns of seeing and reacting to life. Eventually, if she lives with enough stress in so many areas, her brain becomes so strongly "wired" to life being this way, that it becomes the "default" of how life is experienced. Being anxious, unconfident, and negative was becoming who she was.e
She was on the path to becoming an "at risk" child.
Experiences and repetitive habitual emotional reactions to them, change your brain. And for the the teenage brain that is rapidly growing and changing, it can be difficult to turn things around.
Horse work for capital "T" trauma that causes PTSD in so many veterans is becoming the "go to" treatment for good reason. It works! The horses have huge fields of energy that surround them. These fields of energy connect with the human field of energy that creates bonding such that new neural pathways can start to be formed. Over time as they get reinforced and connected, it creates a "brain re set" that helps open the door to a very different and clearer view of what life is.
My work is with the little "t". Traumas that occur everyday that build up in our brains and hearts and start to limit how our life can be experienced. In some ways it's the opposite of typical therapy. We don't focus on the trauma, negativity, and drama to understand it, we focus on the bonding and finding of love and safety as the default in life. We learn how much control we DO have in creating our own experience and accomplishment in life.
Love and connection, safety and happiness are the goal to become the default way of seeing life and being with life.
I did work with this teen for about three months. We pushed her comfort zones of confidence with exercises moving the horses, bringing forward her voice and practicing being more in her body with confident grounded energy. We connected and bonded with her favorite horse which helped reinforce her worthiness, but also was a space to practice healthy boundaries within a relationship. And lastly we were able to show her through talking about how she experienced something with the horses as negative. that this was not necessarily so, and how she chose to see things versus how they actually were. This provided a clear understanding of how we can choose to interpret life occurrences.
For grades, we uncovered a short term memory issue in her learning that was a cause for poor test grades and difficult retention of facts. Once saw this, we could strategize how to overcome it and bring her grades up. We developed processes custom designed to how she did things easily that helped turn things around. We worked on self advocating with her teachers where she knew things were not set up for her success. Grades got better!
Short term memory issues showed up elsewhere in her life and contributed to her anxiety as she struggled to remember how to do new things. Now she knew why and could strategize how to overcome that with writing things down or putting the steps into her phone to look at next time. She is now thriving as a teen with a beautiful bright future.
Our time together with the horses, helped her shift the habits of thinking and seeing the world to positive ones. She gained self understanding vs self loathing.
It was not a long arduous "something to work through that would be hard." This work is full of fun, love, and connection which is exactly the experiences that set the tone for learning and healing.
Join us for groups and individual sessions being booked for fall and have a little fun and a whole lot of connection, to change things around...