"R" started therapeutic horseback riding this year with a local program and lights up when she has the chance to go to the barn. There are 25 horses at the barn and she loves to feed them and groom her assigned horse and she has no fear of these big creatures. She is preparing for the Special Olympics equestrian team for the spring of this year and is very excited.
Since finding her love of horses we began reading some book series together about horses. In one of the books they talked about imprinting new foals when they are born. Imprinting is when you spend lots of time with a new foal after it is born to get it used to having its hooves touched, ears touched and a blanket put on its back ect.. After you have mastered a imprinting session you give a reward and encouragement to the new foal. When working with a horse who is older and is not "broke" you have to be patient and teach that horse that you are not the type of owner that will hurt this horse. You have to earn the trust of the horse, sometimes it requires just simply sitting and being present in a non demanding, threatening way. This can take a long time to earn back the trust of the horse because they don't easily forget those who have wronged them.
I think in some ways our relationship with our children who have been through trauma is the same. We have a responsibility to Imprint new thinking into our children that they are safe and loved and that they do not need to fear certain situations. We have a responsibility to be patient and kind and understanding and teaching our children that they will not be hurt by us and they can trust us so we can make them feel safe and calm in their environment.
I don't have it all figured out, and I have made lots of mistakes along the way in the past 3 years, but I keep moving forward and my hearts desire is that 3 years from now I can say we have made great strides in the world of healing for "R".