Families are like herds of horses.
Equine assisted therapy offers powerful insight into family dynamics and patterns,
provides opportunities to appreciate different roles and perspectives...
Frustrated by a lack of progress after several sessions in the office, the family turned to the alternative approach offered at Project Horse. The 14 year old son was as defiant as ever, and he generally ignored all that his parents asked. Worse, tension now existed between everyone in the family.
During their first session on the farm, the family entered a paddock where 3 horses were standing by. Mom, dad and son were given the task of selecting a horse, then walking it through a small obstacle course. As dad and mom began to discuss a plan, the son walked off, announcing they would work with a large dark brown horse who was eating hay off to the side. The other two horses in the pen walked up to the parents and began to interact with them. The boy ignored the other horses, only focusing on “his” horse. The teen was determined to put a halter on the dark brown horse, but was not having much luck. As mom and dad walked over to their son, the other two horses followed.
After several minutes struggling to get his horse to stop eating, the boy got the halter on. He pulled the horse along with a lead rope, over to the obstacle course. The horse would take 2 steps, then stop and ignore the boy. This pattern repeated itself, leaving dad and mom to observe the power struggle while continuing to bond with the other two horses. The son tried pulling the big horse with the lead rope, angrily told the horse to follow him, tried to bribe him with a handful of hay, and finally pleaded for the big horse to just walk a few steps… The horse still refused to budge, turning his head to look at mom, dad and the other horses.
Finally the boy exclaimed, “I
know what you’re doing! You’re always saying you want me to know just how it feels when you guys want me to do something and I ignore you.” The 14 year old looked at the big dark brown horse in disbelief. Then his face softened into a little smile, and he gave the horse a friendly rub on his forehead, simply uttering, “Wow.”