I grew up around horses…not on a ranch or anything like that but my dad & step mom always had them. I always loved being around them but didn’t quite know why, especially because I am crazy allergic to them. It was similar to yoga in the beginning. I would leave class feeling amazing but not giving the mind, spirit part of the practice credit, only the physical. Same with horses, I had a certain peace and calm around them but never gave it recognition. When I was tiny, probably 3, I was riding with my dad. He had hopped off our horse to go do something else and the horse decided to go and hop a retention basin. I rolled off the back of the horse and my dad caught me. My sister rode by on her horse and said, “Nice catch Dad.” I have heard this story over and over again. I love it. The treatment facility I went to offered equine therapy. I was excited about going, unlike everyone else. Going to equine therapy with a little experience with horses gave me a lot of confidence compared to the others. I didn’t view the horses as intimidating but powerful. At this point in my life, confidence didn’t come easily to me so this was refreshing. I also loved the role I could take of helping others get comfortable with horses. Or maybe it was that I felt superior to them. At that point I was still pretty jacked. Maybe it was a little of both. Ultimately, it felt good to be a leader and knowledgeable versus feeling like a piece of garbage. I saw so much goodness come out of those sessions. There was one dude that wouldn’t even go in the arena at first. He was so afraid and unsure of horses. By the end of the session he was on the biggest horse, lying down on his back with his arms draped on either side of the horse, being led around. The joy that was radiating from his face was priceless. He had overcome a huge fear. And maybe he thought, even a second, if I could do that, I can overcome my addiction. The experience that stands out to me the most personally was the round pin exercise. I was supposed to get the horse to walk, trot and run in the round pin without leading or touching him but using a whip & lead line. Walking was no biggie, even trotting but when I was supposed to make him run, I couldn’t. I was trying to crack the whip. Blisters were forming on my hand from trying so hard. The harder I would try the worse it got. I was so frustrated I eventually burst into tears. And I hated crying at that time. Still don’t like it but I know it is necessary. The therapist asked me what I was feeling. I told her I was so frustrated and I was scared I was going to hurt the horse with the whip. Again, we weren’t hitting the horse with the whip but just cracking it behind him. So now it was her turn to show us how to do it. I was still crying, trying to pull it together. She did it perfectly. After she was done, she came up to me and said, “Do you think I was being mean to the horse?” No. “Do you think I put the horse in danger?” No. She then said, “You can be assertive without being a bitch.” It blew my mind. I had (and actually still struggle) with asserting myself because I don’t want people to think I am mean or rude. I took so much from this. I look up to people with this ability. It is a gift. I am able to find that assertion now through meditation. It helps me know and honor my truth. It gives me confidence in my decisions. It helps me remember that I am protected by something far bigger than me. Any opportunity I get to be around horses I jump at the chance. They are truly magical. You let them in and they will take care of you. They feel you boo and I do too. Love you!