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United Counseling Service: The equestrian redemption

Apr 6 2022, 6:13 PM

In a time in the world where mental health has dominated the lives of millions, the need for resources to combat this epidemic is pressing. Bouts of isolation over the last few years, alone, have exposed the reality of the conditions of people’s mental health and stirred up the traumas and suffrage that had, at one point, thought to have been securely suppressed. Not only are we battling, collectively, the years of this pandemic but, as we all know, life doesn’t stop in the midst of inchorence. Fresh wounds, debilitating loss, and an avalanching accumulation of trouble is where most of us have found ourselves; at least that’s where I know I found myself— bound to the captivity of a dark pit where I laid traumatized, hopeless, and desperate for an escape from the hell I buried myself in. I lingered so long in the realm of darkness that I had adapted to the lifestyle; I became a resident of depression and I decorated my environment with incessant thoughts of worthlessness, shame, and suicidal ideations. Death became palatable—I believed that to be my only answer, sunken down too far for any possible revival. Yet right there amid the dense haze of darkness, one last prayer for help, for resources, for light saved my life.

Connections were made to set me up at United Counseling Service, Bennington County Designated Agency for a FAST appointment. The vulnerability required to shed off the layers of protection and faulty coping mechanisms is one of the toughest things we can be asked to do; however, the courage to be able to tell your truth with all of your heart, mind, and soul is the gateway to redemption. In the FAST session, I was around three women who partnered together to enable me an expansive look at my story that I willingly shared with them. After I shared my story, the other two girls were asked what they heard me say, and the more we continued this process I began to realize the value of external resources.

Many times our mental afflictions turn us so far inward that we are increasingly susceptible to lies that we must suffer alone and that we will never be able to move forward. And yet here I was surrounded by non-judgmental, objective, supportive women who helped break down a false version of me I created, showed me the strength I carry within me, and subsequently watched me annihilate the structures I had built that led me to blame myself for my trauma, remain in shame, and believe I wasn’t worthy of living. This resource exhibited the power of a professional, listening ear— they did not just listen to words I spoke but they felt them, they saw my story within their imagination, and they truly heard me. I love this method of therapy because it emulates the power of unity, vulnerability, and courage. We are our most powerful selves when we bring our darkness into the light and these therapists are eager and prepared to stand behind you forcing the impurities to surface and taking the weight off your feeble bodies. And just as fast as they are drawing out your trauma; they stand behind you with every tool, resource, and supply to help you reconstruct the new you.

Laying down my portrayal of having it all together allowed my imperfections to drive me toward healing. My willingness to release who I thought I needed to pretend to be has navigated me through the bumpy, redemptive road to healing. This road of restoration landed me on the hills of a pasture through UCS’s Equine Therapy program— the equestrian world was foreign to me before I began just a few short weeks ago; my ignorance of their majestic, spiritual interconnectedness to my human existence was vast and since, my life has been genuinely altered. Each time I find myself at the stables it is like I am mentally writing a chapter that helps me to knit together my whole story. Emphasizing the word whole— this is my story of becoming complete; I use each horse as the launchpad to bring me from one level to the next. Their transmission of honest, sincere, and transformational energy has enabled me to create an intimate bond personalized between us.

When I step on the scene, whether venturing along the hills, leading them to a round pen, staying close in a single stable— conversion ignites and the inner workings of my operating system shift back into alignment with my destiny. The most beautiful part about having access to this therapy is the ability to unite together with creation to bring what is deep inside of me out into the open. The horse feels my story just as powerfully as I do— their reenactment of the thoughts within my mind displays that truth to me time and time again. I have seen horses gnaw at the bars of a stable, kick hard enough to cause echoes of agitation to rumble throughout the barn, roll around in the dirt long enough to recreate the dust bowl of the 1930s, and overlooked the lot of them grazing, kicking, frolicking, and living as bold statues of healers, lovers, and converters.

UCS has granted me access to resources that have truly changed the trajectory of my life— whether I am wandering the mountainside with a team of horses at Rhythm Hollow Stables or secured in a seat at the UCS campus I have seen the necessity and great value of connection, truth, and vulnerability. My time in office and around the pasture has exemplified the power of uniting together, bringing darkness out into the light and prioritizing the truth that my life does matter, I am not left to heal on my own, and I am capable of not only recovering but revitalizing a version of myself I never even knew existed.


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