Horse Therapy

Our ten-year-old is sure the horse can read her mind.brigit and tory painting

This horse story began when Brigit was in charge of the household while her brother and I flew off to Washington, DC. Her stepdad was at home with her. But Jurgen’s had health problems and he doesn’t have energy for cooking, cleaning or barnyard chores. So they went out to eat a lot and Brigit took over doing everything else. She rose to the challenge with commendable grace.

During those five days, she took three feral cats into town to get them spayed. She cleaned up after the six rescue cats who are still in cages. She fed and cared for our other animals. She fixed breakfast and lunches. Then she vacuumed and straightened the house. Just before we arrived home she whipped up a “Welcome Home” cake.

So this week, we hoped she could have a break and enjoy herself. When the opportunity came to ride a friend’s horse, she was more than ready to fly out the door. But that experience also involved work. Several horses at that ranch needed grooming and ground work.

After she helped out and then went for a ride, Brigit’s shoulders felt tight and tense. She tried straightening her stance. Then, as Brigit caught the rope to lead a proud Arabian horse back to the barn, she felt a different pressure on her left shoulder. The horse was learning over and rubbing her shoulder with his lips!

TeVo is a high-strung horse. He is attuned to emotions. Clearly, he was trying to comfort his young human friend!

This summer Brigit is exploring what it means to grow up. There is certainly a lot of drudgery and work. But there is also rhythm, grace and healing.

As we sat at the computer to record her most recent adventures, we came across this old photo. Tory was our neighbor’s horse. Back then Brigit was only six years old. She loved to visit the old, white horse. But Tory was getting very old. One leg had been injured and was infected. Even with good treatments, the injury affected the horse’s overall health.

Tory slowed way down. One day when Brigit went to hug her, Tory turned away. It was as if she was saying, “I’m sorry, but I need to leave you.” He let her hang on his neck. A few weeks after that picture was taken, Tory died.

We began to tell stories about the Ghost Horse, because it seemed as if Tory was still wandering the neighborhood, ready to carry Brigit wherever she might need to go. And in her dreams, she flies around the countryside.

Brigit says, “Tory and TeVo live in my heart always.”   Horses do seem to read her mind.

About Judith Costello

A certified art therapist, Judith is the author of numerous articles and books on parenting and child development, including Zen Parenting. She writes from Moriarty, New Mexico.