My love affair with horses…

When I was in the third grade, my parents bought me my first pony.  She was a brown and white Shetland, named Daisy, who held a special surprise that apparently no one knew about.  As her belly became rounder, it was more apparent that she was carrying a foal.  “Oh yeah,” our neighbor said, “our donkey got out, broke through his fence and was with the other horses for awhile.  She must have gotten pregnant then.”  …from a donkey.  When Daisy was full-term, my family and I were blessed to witness the birth of Misty, a beautiful little mule with the biggest ears you have ever seen.  Fences didn’t keep her in, and our inexperienced horse-owning family just let her roam.  She never ventured far from her mom.  I remember riding Daisy bareback through our cornfields, and Misty would come with, jetting in and out of the rows, sometimes startling both Daisy and me.  We sold Misty when she was of age, and our little farm again became orderly.

And so began my love affair with horses.  I’ve often said that finishing a two-year old Quarter Horse in Western Pleasure as a ninth grader was one of my greatest accomplishments of all time.  In that experience, I learned more about myself and life than I ever thought possible.  If you can learn to communicate with a 1,000 pound animal that could honestly hurt you if they really wanted to (innately they do not), then you can communicate with people.

Nothing could touch the freedom I felt when I was with my horses.  My family eventually moved into town, I went away to college, and my two horses needed new homes.  I quenched my thirst for horse-time wherever I could.  I worked at a bible camp for two summers as the Wrangler with 20+ horses at my fingertips.  I was able to go on a few trail rides here and there, while visiting family, and on weekend escapes to Mackinac Island, land of no cars, only horses and horse drawn carriages.  After some research while in graduate school, and learning of a mental health treatment approach involving the use of horses, my long-term goal became very clear – to blend my calling as a therapist with my passion for horses – to help others seek the peace and respite that is possible when joining with a horse – to practice Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

My husband’s career called us far away from our home in St. Paul, MN and into very unfamiliar territory.  I was pregnant and busy with our two-year old son, working to acclimate into a new home, new community, and new church family – all minus the geographical support of my own family.  Due to nausea and near complete exhaustion, both physically and mentally, my vision to practice therapy with horses took a far back burner.  I worked for a few seasons at a small non-profit agency and again grew more than I thought possible, professionally, personally, and spiritually.  During this time I became aware of a place locally that practices Equine Assisted Psychotherapy!  In the building of that relationship, and the culmination of several other events in my life, I am now positioned as a budding entrepreneur.  I am blessed to focus not only on my private practice as a home-based Marriage and Family Therapist and photographer, but also am learning all I can about equine therapies.

In my moments at the ranch, I myself have felt the spirituality and peace and witnessed glimpses of healing.  I have been blessed by the stories that arise from equine therapies, and been lucky enough to see some of the smiles and enlightenment moments first hand.  There’s a force at this place that works to bring healing and wholeness to anyone involved.   That goes not only for the clients, but also for the volunteers, professionals, and the horses.  It sends goosebumps throughout my body to think that this can be the therapeutic modality I work with – that I can breath in the goodness of my love of country life and anything to do with horses even when I do not live in the country and have no horses (yet).  My life is good, and God provides.  I wasn’t ready for this when we first moved, nor was I ready when I started my career at a small agency that saw clients in offices, jails and prisons.  But I was close when my path crossed with PEACE Ranch.  And I was ready when everything was rightly aligned, which was far longer than my earthly desires screaming from my pores.  But with some authentic reflection, I clearly see the timing was perfect.

I would be honored to help anyone discern how they may be able to be involved in the mission at PEACE Ranch.  You do not necessarily have to be a client, a mental health professional or a horse expert.  You could volunteer your time at the ranch, or maybe even from your own home.  You could help financially with the capital campaign for a covered arena that is so desperately needed at the ranch.  You could help by spreading the word in our communities about the power of equine therapies and the mission and vision of PEACE Ranch.  I would be honored to introduce you, and the Executive Director or Volunteer Coordinator would take over with positioning you where your gifts could be utilized to their fullest.

And so I am beginning to see the intersection, of my vocational calling and my lifetime love affair with horses.  To sit back and think about the journey gives me amazing peace and awe at the process.  I would not be here if it weren’t for my parents, who loved and supported (both emotionally and financially) my passion, and for my husband and kids, who believe in me and support me now.  I am forever grateful for the journey and incredibly excited about the future.

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