A horse lover with a beautiful Arabian gelding of his own, Matthew is a local teenager who participated in an Equine Assisted Personal Development program held in the fall of 2018.
Matthew began his EAL session by going through a unique exercise on the ground with a horse named Jewels by his side. As they moved together in the pen, Matthew began to share about his upbringing, the difficult stages and growth he went through during adolescence, and about some of the people in his life that were important to him. Matthew’s journey was not an easy one.
In sharing about his life, Matthew’s emotions began to emerge. He spoke about memories of being with his family, and how even though he knew he was loved, he didn’t always feel accepted. He had a hard time relating to some of his family members and many of his peers, which created tension, upset and disconnection.
As the session progressed and Matthew appeared to be vulnerable and emotional, natural intuition took over and Jewels moved closer to Matthew, eventually surrounding him with a warm, protective hug.
Although there was no threat to Matthew’s well-being in the moment, Jewels could sense his upset and provided support, allowing Matthew to get present to his inner feelings and see new insights for himself.
For Matthew, being with horses allows him the space to be exactly who he is. He’s found a place to put his heart without any worry of being misunderstood.
While young people have always had their challenges, it seems today more and more teenagers struggle with life. They face issues that no other generation has ever seen. And, while some issues are not new, electronic media has changed or amplified many of the struggles young people face. Teens often struggle with depression and anxiety, with bullying, confusing sexual expectations and peer pressure, and it’s all normalized through social media. In a world of such great pressure, the quiet connection with a horse is truly a blessing.
And so, when asked how Equine Assisted Learning works, I simply turn to the horses and they show us.
** Matthew’s story is shared with permission.
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