When Kathy came to Project Horse, her life felt upside down.
She had recently found the courage to leave a long-term abusive relationship, and felt ready to start the process of reclaiming herself. It was clear that Kathy was also afraid – afraid she might not make it out on her own, afraid to trust her instincts and decisions. The years of abuse had left her uncertain as to who she really was anymore, and it shook her confidence as to how to move forward.
Kathy desperately wanted to heal but was not ready to recount the emotional and physical chaos. It was all so fresh… and Kathy knew that talking about it right now would feel traumatic. A friend familiar with Project Horse told Kathy she could find healing there, even if she did not choose to talk about her past.
After being introduced to the team, which included some of the horses, Kathy was asked to choose one of the horses to get to know, in any way she wanted. Kathy felt drawn to a sleek chestnut-colored horse with an athletic build. He also seemed curious about Kathy, and watched as she picked up a soft brush. She tentatively began to stroke the horse’s muscular neck. With every stroke, Kathy relaxed more deeply, now aware that she’d practically been holding her breath. Foster slowly lowered his head as she brushed, and his eyes softened.
Kathy had a pony when she was a girl but had not connected with horses in a very, very long time. After a few minutes brushing Foster, Kathy began to gently cry. She rested her hand on the top of his head, as the horse stood calmly. Then he nuzzled Kathy’s shoulder and neck, seeming to reassure her, encourage her. Foster understood what Kathy was feeling, and what she had undergone, being an abuse survivor himself.
When ready, Kathy told the team that she was crying tears of remembering. Brushing Foster brought back memories of who she was as a girl, filled with confidence and strength. She had hopes and dreams of the life ahead of her, but somewhere along the way she had gotten lost.
By reconnecting with that part of herself through this sleek and powerful horse, Kathy was filled with a deep sense and reminder of who she
is, at her very foundation – a strong woman, filled with hopes and dreams. Although they had been lost for a while, they were never truly gone.
Foster helped Kathy rediscover those parts of herself that she had forgotten. The light deep inside her that had been dimmed by years of demeaning and frightening experiences was now reignited, and shining the way back to her authentic, resilient self. Kathy was given HOPE by a horse who is also an abuse survivor, and shown the courage to no longer be lost.