…Satya, my four-year old twin daughter, is a horse girl. She is the youngest in the stable. Her feet barely reach the stirrups. Still – she is hooked. She has found her hobby, passion or whatever it will turn out to be. I, on the other hand, was never a horse girl. The teenagers in the stable are trying to convince me that ¨it’s so eeeasy to learn to saddle a horse.¨ I hold back the whisper that wants to erupt – ¨but I don’t want to learn…! Can you just saddle the horse please…??¨ Like someone who won’t own a sail boat, I love sailing on one – that’s me with horses. In the meantime, my respect is deep for people who can speak to horses, and who love them and care for them. One of those people, a true horse whisperer, is Trish Broersma.
Trish has been a therapeutic riding professional since 1988. She spent eleven years developing and conducting an innovative equine assisted learning program in human development for at risk teens and adults in transition, published in 2007 by New World Library in Riding into Your Mythic Life: Transformational Adventures with the Horse. Since then her work has focused on deepening the horse/human relationship for global purposes, with an emphasis on body-based modalities, the power of story, and liberty training with horses for eliciting their willingness, wisdom, and enthusiasm for interactions with people.
Again (and apparently, I can’t state this enough!) she’s letting me peek into a world that isn’t mine, namely that of horses as healing agents. Where Trisha’s and my work doesintersect is in our mutual commitment to heal people. Our modalities are different but the aim is the same. We restore faith in the self in our own ways and I very much admire how she has done it. I give you – Trish Broersma…
My Journey with Horses
– by Trish Boersma
There was a thread that I followed ever since I can remember. It fueled my childhood with dreams of riding horseback, kept me day-dreaming at school, gave me clear-sighted vision of something more than my Oklahoma home scape, and carried my heart and soul through college, marriage, family, and one job after another. It felt mostly like a yearning, a restlessness that led me onward.
The challenges along the way sometimes seemed insurmountable. They forced me to become creative and eventually led me to the work I now do with horses, healing work that reveals the sentient nature of horses and their key role in the human evolutionary journey for this particular time in history.
Some of the turning points:
Walking down a road leading one of my riding students and wrestling inside with how to do more meaningful work that could make a difference in the world, I looked up at a tree and somehow got the message from that tree that I knew horses in my bones, and that I had to somehow make that into something worthwhile.
Within months, I saw a newspaper article about therapeutic riding and with a burst of insight realized that I could combine my interest in medicine that had been left behind in college, with my love for horses. I began bringing mildly disabled children into my teaching program.
Years later I designed a program for at-risk teens that incorporated the power of stories and my love of literature into a summer program, empowering young men and women in a residential treatment center. It culminated in a book ten years later: Riding Into Your Mythic Life, Transformational Adventures with the Horse.
A man in Australia dreamed my name when out camping. Two years later I traveled there for two teaching tours.
Five years ago I was seeking a way to offer services with horses to my local community. I heard about a program for breast cancer survivors, which appealed to me because I had accompanied two friends through treatment and I sensed that one of my horses, who was not a good lesson horse, but was sensitive and interactive, might be a good horse to get started with. My friends were skeptical as her nickname was “Dominatrix,” but we quickly saw possibilities when she was completely engaged with our first attempts to try her out. A few months later, we held a pilot program with the help of over 60 people in our community. Our first client had completed chemotherapy and was taking a break before radiation treatment. She was somewhat apprehensive about horses but wanted to give it a try. After setting the stage for our first interaction between her and Mystic, she was asked to get acquainted by simply touching hand to muzzle in mutual greeting. Within seconds, Mystic reached forward and began gently and actively nuzzling her solar plexus area. I was astonished and on guard: Was the horse going to nip her as she continued this behavior for many long seconds? Why was the client not moving away from such intimate interaction when I knew she was apprehensive? Finally after about 30 seconds, I asked the horse to move back. Our client immediately told us with tears that Mystic was nuzzling the area of her tumor and that she had not moved away because she felt a powerful energy coming into her from the horse. She will tell you even now, five years later that this was a life-changing moment. Mystic’s presence in her mind and heart continued to support her throughout the rest of her treatment and on into the present time.
For me and all of us, this was the beginning of our road to discovery of how Mystic, and other horses, too, offer similar remarkable interactions with people, unique interactions in every case, that have opened our eyes, our minds and hearts to the amazing power of healing through the heart of the horse.
Looking back, I could never in my wildest dreams have drawn the lines of this work, its incredible sense of fulfilling my own destiny, and my gratitude for the many people who have supported and accompanied me on this, the ride of my life.
You can meet Mystic at ridingbeyond.org and learn more about the work we do together.