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As you probably know by now, I am a big fan of trying to figure out who I really am.
I have spent the last 13 years working on myself, delving into the dark corners and pulling out pieces that needed closer observation and dissection. Sometimes, pieces of me have needed to be re-worked; reverse engineered.
I am still working on others that are sitting on the table under a microscope, waiting to be analyzed more closely…waiting for me to gather up the courage to “go there”.
I have worked with professionals over the years who have helped me with the mental and physical aspects of my health journey.
Because it’s hard being human.
Stuff happens that we may not be prepared for, feel we deserve, or have the tools to handle.
We go through challenging experiences and we tend to repeat those experiences mentally and/or physically over and over, often for many, many years. We create memories around them and we think they are what make us, “us”.
Indeed, our experiences and our memories contribute to shaping us, but we also have the power to edit and even re-write our stories if we choose to do so.
Sometimes our experiences need to be left in the past, if they no longer serve us. And sometimes, we can use our stories to help others know that they are not alone.
I tend to do both as I work through my “stuff”.
I analyze my past as a way to understand my thoughts, my behaviours and my patterns. I then aim to use the awareness to help me make better choices moving forward.
I use some experiences as a kind of human glue intended to help others know that we are connected.
It’s a journey, this life, and if we can connect with others along the way, each experience can be used as a way to grow and strengthen ourselves as part of the human collective.
I heard of equine therapy in October 2011 when my father was being treated for alcoholism. Without going into detail here, I had flown out to my parents’ home in BC to talk with my Dad about the possibility of getting help. Like me, he was a high functioning alcoholic.
He had been successful in his career, was married to my Mom for over 40 years, was active in his church and his community, and was a charismatic, friendly and genuine human being. He had been battling severe depression for several years starting around the time of his retirement, and his drinking had escalated significantly during that time.
He agreed to go to treatment, and a month or so after being there, he called to tell me he was considering going on an outing to a ranch where they offered equine therapy. I had never heard of it before. He said he hadn’t either, but he learned that he would be visiting with horses and apparently this type of therapy helped people tremendously.
I said it sounded wonderful and encouraged him to go.
Earlier in my Dad’s life, he had been thrown off a horse while riding, and had developed a mild fear of them. I thought this would be, at the very least, a great opportunity for him to develop a new story about horses.
After the retreat, he called to tell me about his experience. He was so excited to share that, at first, the horse was skittish, and he wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen. But by the end of the day, the horse was butting up against his chest and my Dad was stroking the side of his face and his neck without any fear. He said that it was a truly moving experience. He had been changed by “his” horse.
The Peaceful Power Of Horses
Horses have always been my favourite animals. Although I have never owned one or even taken riding lessons, there is just something about their giant size yet gentle nature that has always appealed to me.
Not long ago, I was reminded of my Dad’s experience with equine therapy, and I began to research places in Ottawa that offered a similar service. That’s when I found Tranquil Acres Therapeutic Equestrian Centre.
Watch my interview with Ryan Theriault here:
I am thrilled to be able to share a piece of Tranquil Acres with you today. Ryan Theriault is courageous and compassionate, following his heart by leaving a well-paying, secure, corporate job in favour of his dream to help others.
Ryan experienced the transformative power of horses in his own life as a young boy growing up in the Maritimes. Things weren’t easy for him as a kid, and being with horses was the one place that he felt happy, safe, and accepted for who he was.
He could trust them.
They didn’t judge.
They kept his secrets.
Being able to share with a horse can be an amazing step towards wellness.
Ryan is a guy with a dream, and in 2011, he opened the doors to Tranquil Acres and hasn’t looked back.
Perhaps you have tried traditional methods to deal with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, addiction, or post traumatic stress disorder. If you feel you still have work to do or those methods lacked something, I hope you consider equine therapy.
It is a truly amazing place and the work they are doing is life-changing.
Ever since leaving Tranquil Acres, I am catching myself more often when I am trying to avoid my feelings. I remember that a horse would call me on my bluff.
I picture them being uncomfortable with my incongruence.
I want to feel calm and centred, and I know that this can only happen when I am being truthful. When I am being who I really am.
If you, or someone you know, could use this information, then I urge you to pass it on. We are part of the collective consciousness, and so when one person heals, we all benefit.
Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.
Here are the links discussed in the interview:
To visit the Tranquil Acres website and to learn more about retreats at the Tranquil Acres Guest House (which is gorgeous!!), go to TranquilAcresGuestHouse.com.
Ryan and his team are bilingual and offer services in both official languages.
Click here to learn more about Heroes Equine Learning Program (H.E.L.P.), and to donate to this amazing cause. As Ryan says in the video, they offer their services at no cost to the Heroes (military, veterans and first responders) for the three days, so the goal is to have funds available at all times in order to provide this incredible service to the people who need it. What a way for us to be able to help the people who keep us safe and risk their lives for us!
To learn more about eagala, The Global Standard for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Personal Development, visit their website at eagala.org.
If you are in the Ottawa, Canada area, feel free to contact Ryan directly if you have questions at 613.489.5294 or email him at email@example.com.
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