Hugs and healing by a horse

Horse therapy offered in Columbia Valley

Not to brag, but I’m a something of an expert at going to therapy. Even so, up until this morning I had exclusively seen human counsellors. Today my therapist came with hooves.

“(The horses) are the teachers. I’m just the listener and the observer,” said Luraina Oddy, who runs Heart and Soul Medicine Horse near Brisco and facilitates healing sessions between her clients and her horses.

Ms. Oddy doesn’t pick the horse to match the client. Instead she lets the horses choose.

As we walked toward her herd of 11 horses, one backed away. Then Boots, a tall boy with a star running the length of his face, “volunteered” to take me on. He dipped his head into a halter and walked into a corral where Ms. Oddy and I joined him.

“The horse is going to know what to do,” she said, reassuring me.

People are typically either overjoyed or spooked about entering the arena when they get started, depending on their past experiences with horses, she said. I definitely was in the latter category. Horses are big!

Ms. Oddy said one of her earlier clients, a non-verbal boy with autism, was also frightened at the start of his session but the horse understood and empathized with the boy’s emotions.

“The horse comes up to him and just puts his cheek on his cheek,” she said.

The boy’s mother was amazed to see what happened next. The horse began gently licking the boy’s neck like he was kissing a wound.

Unbeknownst to Ms. Oddy, the boy had been dealing with medical issues related to his neck.

“Whenever I have a client here that has any kind of pain, the horses can sense it,” she said. “They can (also) pick up conscious and sub-conscious emotions.”

Ms. Oddy, a homeschooling mother of four, is especially interested in working with children that have special needs.

“Autism and horses really go hand in hand,” she said. “They almost get each other.”

Unlike in a traditional therapy session, she said talking and reliving the past isn’t necessary in the corral. All her clients need to do is focus on their hearts and let the horses do what they will.

During my session – which took place while standing – I felt a lot of the same emotions as I used to in standard therapy. Boots seemed to empathize, and wrapped his body around mine in a horse-shoe shaped hug. He nibbled on my wrists, rolled in the hay and nuzzled my neck.

Throughout the session, Ms. Oddy stayed at my side – at my request – offering possible interpretations for me to take or leave about the significance of Boot’s behaviour.

By the end I felt refreshed. I was also mystified. How was it possible that hanging out with Boots could be healing?

Ms. Oddy said it’s because the horses offer her clients a heartfelt, non-judgemental and authentic connection and help them release their emotions.

“Sometimes healing from emotional scaring isn’t an easy road,” she said, but she and her empathetic herd are eager to support their clients during the process.

For more information, visit heartandsoulmedicinehorse.com.

Just Posted

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Trauma and recovery cracked Wide Open in memoir

Local author D.M. Ditson writes about assault and the journey to recovery

Fat bike fun at Nipika

Cross River Ripper Race this Saturday, February 23rd

MLA working on health care access

Clovechok addresses numerous health concerns from constituents

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Most Read