Taking the Reins to a Better Me! Impressions From the Young Ladies of SRD Straightening Reins
SRD Straightening Reins is a local not-for-profit that specializes in equine-assisted and interactive therapies designed to improve the mental health and well-being of adolescents and teens. The teens work alongside a trained EAGALA specialist, a mental health professional and the SRD therapy herd. What better way to know how these sessions help those who have been attending SRD’s program than from several young teens who have been actively involved.
“Hi, my name is Lauren. I have had a real passion for animals my whole life. I am someone who deals with anxiety and it’s a blessing to be a part of SRD. It has helped me get through tough times and has inspired me to be myself. Some people don’t want to talk to therapists about their anxiety or mental illness. I talk to the animals because I know they will always be there for me and will always listen without judgement. Animals are empathetic and sense what people are feeling better than we do.”
“My name is Roxie and I began going to SRD-Straightening Reins about 3 years ago when I was 9. SRD is a safe place that I go to hang out with the therapy herd and it has helped me overcome part of the anxiety and depression that I feel. I don’t like talking about my feelings so I talk to the horses instead! Horses don’t judge, but they react to me through their body language. I find a quiet place and actually talk to them as if they are human! I know they don’t understand my words but they do understand my feelings when they nod their heads, snort and sometimes I get a hug. Mufasa is a horse that I enjoy spending time with. He pushes my limits and tests me when he is defiant. He teaches me that in life I’m not always going to get my way. I am learning to be patient. At the ranch I enjoy spending time with the herd by mucking, cleaning waters, grooming and feeding. Through this, my confidence has grown so much that I am learning to train the animals. SRD has helped me grow over the years to manage my feelings, work with other kids like me and gain confidence in myself. I even created a YOU TUBE site Mia & Me SRD.”
“My name is Landon and SRD helped me evolve from a shy, anxious girl into a confident young woman who is capable of handling all types of animals and working with other teens with mental health issues. My anxiety in 5th grade caused me to shut down and retreat from friends, school, soccer and from all the things I loved. By working at my own pace with the animals at SRD I not only learned to manage my anxiety, but I developed leadership skills and most importantly a purpose for my future. I am now 18 years old, going to college with the goal of helping run SRD Straightening Reins someday. I am grateful to SRD and look forward to meeting and working with anyone in the community who could benefit from my experience.”
A mother’s words:” Cassidy is a beautiful 15-year-old teenage girl trying to fit in at high school while also struggling with autism. She has difficulty relating to and conversing with other people and tends to withdraw and keeps to herself in most social situations. Making friends is naturally very difficult for my daughter. She becomes very anxious around people instead of staying in the moment and engaging in conversation. Since attending SRD Straightening Reins, Cassidy has opened up significantly and made friends with the other kids that are at the ranch. She works with the small groups of kids to care for the animals, feeding and grooming them. Focusing on the animals gives everyone common purpose and is a focal point that breaks down barriers to socialization. There is no peer pressure or forced acceptance that can occur in strictly human interaction. The animal’s needs transcend typical social situations that can be awkward for kids like Cassidy. The animals respond to the kids and the kids respond to them in turn. Their attention is evident immediately in the animal’s behavior. They come over to the kids and show their appreciation for the care by frolicking in the arena, playing and rolling, and nuzzling the kids. Cassidy looks forward to her visits at SRD and we have seen great improvement both at home and in school towards her interactions with others.”
As you read these testimonials, I hope you can feel how much these young ladies have grown within a program that is safe, allows them to be themselves and yet teaches them empathy for others and for the animals that give them love in return.
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