Bob: Hello everyone, and welcome to another insightful session with our beloved therapy horses at STEPS with Horses. Today, I have the pleasure of cocking a hoof up with the wonderful Sissy, a true gem in our herd. Thank you for joining us, Sissy!
Sissy: Hello, Bob! It's a pleasure to be here.
Bob: Sissy, could you share a bit about your life before joining STEPS with Horses? We've heard you've had quite a journey.
Sissy: Certainly, Bob. Several years ago, I was carrying a foal for a friend. Unfortunately, the foal didn't make it, and I faced some serious health challenges. I received the best care, but I was finished having babies. I later moved to the Thomas Foundation Second Chance Horse Rescue who helped me find my forever home with STEPS With Horses. My best friend, Maggie, and I moved to STEPS two years ago. We’ve made wonderful friends with the other herd members, especially my boyfriend, Max.
Bob: It sounds like you've had quite the journey. Now, tell us about your friendship with Maggie and Max. What makes your bond so special?
Sissy: Maggie and Max are like family to me. We're often inseparable, spending our days together. Max is the herd boss, and Maggie and I are always by his side. We share scratches, love, and of course, juicy grass. It's a special connection that brings joy to our days.
Bob: That's remarkable, Sissy. The STEPS humans emphasize that our equine well-being is crucial, not just physically but emotionally. Can you tell us more about how the team cares for our herd emotionally?
Sissy: The team here is amazing, Bob. They understand that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical health. We have a comfortable and safe environment that allows us to express ourselves naturally. It's not just about being well-fed and healthy; it's about feeling content and emotionally secure. The attentiveness to our emotional needs contributes to the positive energy we bring into therapy sessions.
Bob: I completely agree, Sissy. Let’s go a little deeper and talk about some key elements of the humans’ counseling approach, Relational Equine-Partnered Counseling (REPC), and how it benefits our herd. One fundamental aspect is the belief in our capacity to be self-directed. In REPC, they view us not as entities to be controlled but as sentient participants in the therapeutic process.
Sissy: That's right, Bob. Most of the time, we roam freely in our pastures, choosing what we want to participate in during sessions. If we feel like following a client around, we do. If we want to walk away, we do. This autonomy allows us to authentically express our reactions, creating genuine connections with our clients.
Bob: I love talking about how REPC respects our autonomy, treating us as equal partners in the therapeutic relationship. Now, another distinctive element is the de-emphasis on structured activities. REPC values the development of insight and emotional regulation over completing specific exercises. How has this approach impacted your experience as a therapy horse?
Sissy: Well, Bob, the organic and adaptable nature of REPC keeps our work engaging and mentally stimulating. Horses, like people, can get bored with repetitive tasks. REPC allows us to approach each session with freshness, making every day different. It's a stark contrast to more rigid equestrian activities that might become monotonous for us.
Bob: That's a crucial insight, Sissy. REPC not only benefits our human clients but also contributes to our well-being as therapy horses by providing mental stimulation. Have you observed positive changes in some of your herd members since moving to STEPS?
Sissy: Absolutely, Bob. I’ve really noticed positive changes in Echo and Belle, who came from the Thomas Foundation with Maggie and me. They were both pretty nervous with people, but have found their calling as therapy horses by building trust with both our human coworkers and our clients. It's a testament to the holistic impact of equine assisted counseling on all of my equine friends.
Bob: It truly sounds like a fulfilling role, Sissy. Lastly, how has being a therapy horse influenced your own well-being and happiness?
Sissy: Being a therapy horse is fulfilling for me as well. It's not just about giving; it's also about receiving love and attention. The positive interactions with clients and the care from the STEPS team contribute to my overall happiness. It's a mutually enriching experience.
Bob: It sounds like you've found your calling here, Sissy. We're grateful for the joy and love you bring to the STEPS herd family. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Sissy: Thank you, Bob. It's been a pleasure. And to everyone listening, come visit us at STEPS with Horses. We'd love to share some love and snuggles with you!
Want to work with Sissy as a client? Fill out a Counseling Interest Form!
Interested in hearing from Sissy every month and extra special gifts? Join Sissy's Carrot Club and support Sissy and her herd!
STEPS With Horses