Horse Therapy Schmorse Therapy

It takes time, but Horse Therapy is working.

Sonia Billadeau April 15, 2014
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jumping jacksIt’s still all good, but we’re really stirring the pot. Today I rode a horse, my daughter did as well. The horse therapist put us on horses that are best friends to see what the horses would do. I was riding Cinnamon and when my daughter got on Sapphire, the horse came trotting up and started walking right behind my horse. The therapist said, “She’s attached to you, Mom!” Then she asked Kaylyn, “How does it feel to know you’re attached to Mom, Kaylyn?” At first Kaylyn said, “Good” real enthusiastically. When the therapist said, “Really?” Kaylyn said, “Well, kind of.”

Sapphire spent the next fifteen minutes so far up Cinnamon’s behind that the horse therapist finally said, “Mom, do you like Kaylyn being inside your bubble? Talk to her and tell her how it makes you feel and where you want her to be.” I asked Kaylyn to stay a horse’s length behind me and she went from inside my skin to the other side of the arena. The horse therapist said it’s the same issue, whether she’s too far inside my space or too far away.

I was excited to ride today because I wanted to see what the horses would show about my relationship with my daughter, like finding out that she actually is attached to me, if only a little. Privately, the horse therapist came up to me and said, “You’ve suffered a lot of trauma from this child.” She also said, “You let her push your buttons, you’re not in control, she is. You’re addicted to it and you don’t even realize it.” Ouch. The therapist said that even if RAD kids shift, the parents also have to shift. I guess some people think there’s a cosmic-spiritual connection about why certain kids come to certain families. I can definitely see how my daughter pushes me to grow in ways I don’t think anyone else could. Of course at first it made no sense to me that I would be addicted to letting my daughter push my buttons. I asked the therapist why on earth I would do something like that. She told me to think about it as I continued to ride (and to pray about it), and darned if thoughts didn’t come into my mind that I’ve never realized before. I’ve known for eight years that nobody can push my buttons like my daughter, but today, riding that plodding horse around that arena, I made connections I had never made before about the part I play in our dynamic.

When we got home, my daughter behaved worse than she ever has (she blames the horses for bringing up her “mad”). We had to take off her shutters that she was banging in a rage and remove her dresser before she could throw the drawers. I’ve never seen such rage in anyone, let alone a fourteen-year-old girl. I stayed the course and gave her a chance to write an essay about how mad she is that we expect her to follow our rules (be respectful, responsible and fun to be with).

When I left, she was screaming at me to leave her alone. When I went back in about twenty minutes later, she was writing the essay. I asked her what had helped her shift and she said she did sixty scissor kicks. (Our new therapist taught her that when she’s stuck, she can do scissor kicks, jumping jacks, or anything else bilateral that uses both hemispheres of her brain. For whatever reason, it helps her to get unstuck.)

I was proud of her for wanting to calm down, for thinking of a way to help herself and for actually doing it. She is so mad at us for making her go to this new therapist, making her ride horses, and making her be respectful, responsible and fun to be with, but I see such healing in her already. She may even thank us some day. And the bonus? With all these essays she gets to write, her penmanship—which was psycho-kitty—is becoming quite excellent!

Photo credit: www.blissfullydomestic.com/jumping-jack.jpg

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Sonia Billadeau


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