The outcomes for these kids begin with self-harm, dropping out of school, living on the street and suicide attempts. When they can come to the ranch those outcomes change to good grades, good school attendance, self-respect and relationships that are healthy and thriving.
Progress demonstrated from 1 year of treatment
Increase in GPA from average of 2.15 to 2.82
Increase in school attendance from 59% to 81.50%
Why Equine Facilitated Therapy works
The part of the brain that is “shut down” when a person experiences trauma is the limbic section. That is the part of the brain that governs emotion, therefore, affecting relationships. When a person is traumatized, the limbic brain puts them into a constant state of “hyper-vigilance.” When we are in that state, it is not possible to form a relationship. Therapists cannot access the limbic part by talking to it, assuring the traumatized person returning home from the war, for example, that everything is fine and not to worry. The only way to access it is through experiential learning.
Horses’ brains are almost exclusively limbic. And, being a prey animal, they absolutely MUST be in relationship with those they live with (horses in their herd and/or people in their lives) for survival. They are in constant search of relationship. Children cannot trust people when they have been betrayed by them, but will trust a horse. When they are together, they regulate each other’s behavior and their own. That ability to regulate behavior and to open up the channels of relationship then transfers over to relationships with the people in their lives.
“Raven Rock has been extremely beneficial for my daughter she looks forward to her weekly visits with her horse and Julie. Since we have begun she has increased her awareness and mindfulness. We are working on her anxiety and self-confidence. She has increased significantly from where we were but not quite there yet. She has blossomed while at RRR and seeing her find herself while working in the round pen and in general she is learning self-advocacy and that is okay to make decisions, this is a huge struggle because of the lack of confidence but she has increased a lot from where she was 2 years ago. We are very thankful for RRR.”
Literally a Rock
“Raven Rock is literally a Rock for our Daughter. It is the one place where she is completely confident and interested in learning. Being with the horses each week helps her to control her anxiety for the rest of the week. If we miss even one week I see a difference in her behavior and anxiety level.
The staff and volunteers at Raven Rock are interested in her and treat her with respect and friendship. They make an effort to interact with her multiple times during the sessions and this is excellent modeling for her.
I also have witnessed other children in the program heal through the horse therapy. This last weekend we didn’t leave the ranch right on time and saw some of the kids in the second lesson arrive. One girl who in the past never raised her eyes off the ground or acknowledged anyone but her mom came over and talked to me. What a lovely surprise! I don’t see her often and I was amazed and delighted for her and the progress she has made.”