Two years ago, I found myself in the middle of a mental health crisis. I had just left a bad relationship and also found myself increasingly unhappy and unsatisfied with my career. I decided to leave my job to figure things out and find the help I desperately needed. I had struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life, but this was the lowest I had ever been. I tried various treatments without much improvement. Nothing seemed to be working and I was spending most of my time in bed with little to no desire to get up to eat or even shower.
Earlier this year, my therapist suggested I look into some form of equine therapy. I had only been on a horse twice in my life, but I was quickly losing hope and I was open to trying just about anything. Determined to keep fighting for my life and my mental health, my search led me to Bridle Up Hope. It was during my barn tour that I first heard the story of Rachel Covey. Her story, and how Bridle Up Hope came to be, really resonated with me and I instantly felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
On top of my mental health, I had always struggled with confidence and self esteem. That, however, would soon all change with the amazing women's program. I felt like my instructor, Joyce, was hand picked just for me. She was always excited to see me and always smiling with her contagious upbeat attitude. My first lesson was with Kokomo, one of Rachel's horses, which honestly felt like an honor. I think he could sense my lack of confidence and that I had no clue what I was doing because I was struggling to get him to listen to me at first. After some groundwork in the round pen, Kokomo joined up with me and it was an incredible feeling, one of a kind, and truly a pivotal moment for me. The 7 Habits for me started with Kokomo, Habit 1: Be Proactive. I had to take charge of my horse which empowered me to start to take control of my life back.
Each week I kept coming back and each week I was challenged by working with a different horse while also incorporating the 7 Habits. Habit 4: Think Win-Win was a big week for me. I had just returned home from the barn after another great lesson when I heard a car accident outside. While I would usually stand back and watch or crawl back into bed, this time I felt compelled to jump in and help. I ended up meeting a woman about my age that lives in my neighborhood who didn't speak much English and she had her young son in the car who was pretty shaken up. I stayed with them both to help translate and I made sure they were both ok. I stepped out of my comfort zone that day and I walked away with a new friend. Her son waves with excitement every time they drive by my house now. I was slowly starting to see pieces of myself come back and new pieces I didn't even know were there all along buried deep within me.
I am still a work in progress, but I've already come a long way. Since I became a part of the wonderful Bridle Up Hope family, everyone around me has seen a huge change in how I carry myself and the fact that I'm smiling again. I'm no longer spending all of my time in bed. I found my confidence and my voice and I'm the happiest I've been in several years. I don't know which career path I will choose next, but I'm no longer afraid of the unknown for I know that I can do hard things. I continue to come back to the barn for service hours and lessons as often as I can for this place has become a sanctuary and a safe space for my mind, body, and soul to heal. I always leave the barn with a full heart and a big smile.
Bridle Up Hope not only changed my life, it genuinely saved my life. I will forever be grateful for this program and for all of the amazing women I have met and continue to meet along the way. I have learned so much about myself and horses. I'm definitely hooked for life! Horses are truly magical and if you open your heart they will teach you more than you ever thought possible.
- Women's Experience Participant