Meghan Vivo was kind enough to take the time in interviewing equine therapist, Dede Beasley. As I read through her interview I actually started to get emotional.
Get your tissues out
The story was told of an individual who suffered through years of horrific abuse as a child, who came to the equine therapy ranch where Dede spends her working days. This client was given the opportunity to spend time with one of the therapeutic horses in the meadow with no distractions. Tears streaming, the client made the statement, “No one so big has ever been nice to me before.”
No one so big has ever been so nice to me before.
Dede grew up in a very unfortunate situation. She spent her days taking parental leadership from a mother and father who were both alcoholics, and extremely erratic. This challenging experience as a young person had a great effect on her, even causing her to struggle with all kinds of life trauma – including difficulties with alcohol, abusive relationships, eating disorders and more.
In all of the mess, however, there was one thing that Dede held onto tightly. She came from a long line of equestrian experts, and her mother was supportive in keeping that in the family. Even through the daily life challenges, mom would always take her to ride ponies. This gift from Dede’s mom is still appreciated today by her.
It’s interesting to learn from Dede about how the passion for recovery over life’s obstacles and a passion for horses have blended into her main focus today, equine therapy.
Looking at equine therapy a little differently
Often, when you visit an equine therapy organization, the horses are seen as “tools” for the patient to get better. While this is certainly the case, Dede takes thing a bit further. The horses on the ranch are seen more as “partners” in recovery. Horses have an amazing ability to become close to a human, regardless of the imperfections of the human. The way they interact within their band is largely based on a respect that exists based on kindness.
When people are put into a position to interact with such a powerful animal, it can bring out a huge range of emotions for the client. Sometimes, clients of the equine therapy ranch LOVE the way that this “discomfort” makes them feel and other times, they aren’t. But regardless of their desire to continue therapy, almost every patient finds out something about themselves that can often be described as magical, like of like blowing dust off of a precious relic from the past and finding its real beauty.
What and how does one learn through equine assisted therapy?
The client mentioned at the beginning of the story, when placed in a position of interacting with a “being” so much larger and more powerful than she, began to experience feelings of trust again. These feelings had almost disappeared from her list of “possible emotions” through the years of abuse. Quality equine therapy programs are specific in how they decide to help patients to recover from situations they are dealing with in their lives. Equine massage therapy may be beneficial for some, while others may benefit from grooming or leading the horse in other ways.
When the horses are treated properly, and interacted with in a way that puts them on the same level as the person, amazing discoveries can be made, according to Beasley. There are major behavior and thought patterns that can be discovered very quickly through interaction with horses. Some of the most common patterns include those of thought and behavior. Once these patterns are identified, it can prove to be a very enlightening experience for patients.