Equine Assisted Therapy by Michelle Holling-Brooks
Winston S. Churchill’s famous quote “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” is only half-right. At Unbridled Change, we agree that the horse is good for the human soul, but it isn’t just the outside of the horse. We believe it is the whole horse — mind, body, and spirit — that helps us heal. The number one question we get at Unbridled Change is how can partnering with horses really helps change and heal a person. We would love to answer that question for you! Before that, let me introduce you to Unbridled Change, a nonprofit mental health organization that serves the Roanoke Valley. Unbridled Change has been dedicated to supporting our clients since 2008, with the mission to help our clients find the hope, healing, and growth they have been searching for through what we call equine-partnered psychotherapy and coaching. I know firsthand the power of partnering with horses to help us heal. After a life-threating illness when I was 13 years old, it was horses that
helped me heal on many different levels. Through riding horses, my body was literally able to relearn how to walk. It was also the hours and hours I spent in the pastures, just being with the horses and learning how to gain their trust, that taught me to trust another being again and to believe in myself. In fact, it was that illness, and my recovery through working with horses, that started me on my life’s purpose of providing equineassisted therapy back in 1995. I founded Unbridled Change to provide a sacred space for equine-partnered programs. I wanted others to be able to experience the same support that horses had given me so they, too, could heal themselves.
So how and why does equine-assisted therapy work? There are many different types of equine-assisted activities and therapies out there, just as there are many different approaches to “healing.” At Unbridled Change, we focus solely on the mental health therapy and personal growth aspects of healing with horses. Our approach is based on the belief that horses are sentient beings who want to be in a relationship and balance with the world around them. We believe that horses don’t judge us on what we look like or what our past is. They only care about how we show up in the moment and how we treat them and ourselves in that interaction. If we are willing to be trustworthy and respectful with them, to present our
We believe it is the whole horse — mind, body, and spirit — that helps us heal.