Thursday, December 10, 2015
"This Place Saved My Life": How High The Stakes Really Are
Some people do not understand my disdain for the established horse world. Some completely misinterpret it as a class based hostility. No, my disdain for the horrible system that has come to define horsemanship is based to a smaller degree on what it has done to horses--forcing them to live in abusive systems of stables, sugar and shoes. The much deeper problem is what that world does to people.
In its quest to convert equine flesh to cash at any cost the system makes developing a real relationship with a horse much more difficult for the horse owner who follows their dictates. But worst of all, the system is fueled only by greed and that greed creates a system that sets the cost of horse ownership beyond the capacity of most working families.
The bottom line is that people who need the experience of healing and personal growth that can be found with horses are denied that opportunity.
Only yesterday did it really sink in to me that the overwhelming majority of the people who have been sucked into the system that the established horse world has created do not even know that there is another way.
Worst of all they do not have any idea of the importance of the fruit of that other way.
Over the years I have been told on several occasions, by people who could barely hold their emotions in as they spoke, that "This place saved my life." When they said it it was meant very literally--not as a catch phrase for "I have great fun here"--but as a graphic statement that these horses have prevented suicide.
When one sees the impact that it has on so many of the patients at the veterans hospital who come out here as part of the inpatient ptsd program, one can understand how high the stakes are. When one sees the impact that the horses have on survivors of sexual assault, one can understand how high the stakes are. When one sees the growth that occurs in children whose self image is such that they feel that they simply do not deserve to be happy, one can see how high the stakes are. When one sees families strengthened as the parents learn to ride right along with the kids, one sees how high the stakes are. When Ashley Edwards, of Road To Repair, uses the horses to teach cops how to effectively communicate with victims of sexual assault, one sees how high the stakes are.
And keep in mind--we are not a specialized facility for emotional therapy. We are not the healers--the horses are.
Years ago I received a note telling me to "quit breeding worthless crap that had no marketable value." The note seemed to have come from a breeder of horses that sell for a great deal of money to be shown in halter classes.
I must confess that I know little of marketable value, but it seems to me that a horse that keeps a teenager alive and lifts them out of misery is priceless.
And this is why I despise the established horse world with the intensity of feeling that I have. They hide the light under a bushel and even worse, they work very hard to keep anyone else from shining a light.
Again, please do not get a misconception about our program. We are not a therapeutic facility per se.
In fact, if I ever meet a person who is not holding a deep pain inside them that needs healing I will be happy to have them participate in our program. But as one gets older one realizes how rare indeed such people are.
Posted by Steve Edwards