Horses are magnificent creatures. These beautiful animals have intrigued me since I was a little girl but now I have an even greater respect for their healing power. It wasn’t until my daughter was going through some dark years I realized how amazing they are. She has struggled with bullying for years. As a family, we did everything possible to help her. From piano lessons to singing lessons to therapy we provided her with whatever outlets we could think of.

She was hurting and breaking inside. Demoralized by her peers and even a few teachers, the light went out of her eyes. As a parent standing by and watching your child in so much pain, it is frightening. I will never forget the day when she came home from school in grade six. Running up the stairs, she fell to her knees and sobbed, begging me not to make her go back. If I had to do it all over again I believe I would have pulled her from the school system and home-schooled her. Her bullying started from kindergarten. She is a sweet and kind girl. Even to this day, she has never allowed her bullies to turn her into the bully, but the years of bullying have made her defensive.

Her school life has scarred and damaged her self-esteem. In grade nine I decided it wasn’t worth it to send her to school. When I informed the school within the first few weeks of grade nine, I was removing her from school to home-schooled and focus on healing her, the words the principal said have stayed with me. She told me; we were running. I couldn’t believe her response. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in the office over the issues of the bullying she has faced. Or how many times I’ve tracked down parents at school and informed them of the behavior of their children. It’s every child’s right to go attend school and be left in peace.

One day she came and asked if she could take riding lessons. We enrolled her and soon found out this was her passion. An abused horse at the ranch named Cherish became her favorite. Cherish arrived at the ranch timid and untrusting of people. Nasty gashes marked her hind end where someone had spurred her. She wouldn’t allow anyone to ride her. But in time, she learned to trust my daughter and together they helped heal each other. My daughter rode her every class and often volunteers at the ranch to this day as it is still the therapy she leans on. Recently, Cherished became a mom. Leading up to the birth of the foal my daughter waited anxiously to get the call from the coach, she was in labor. We are pleased, now to say Cherish is healthy and happy with her new baby.

It was in the year of homeschooling and horse therapy, she admitted the truth about the dark thoughts tormenting her mind. We have had a close relationship all her life. But she never told me about the thoughts of suicide she was battling for over a year. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I thought I knew all her suffering. But I never expected this. Since that day I’ve added my voice and our story to the fight against bullying.

I’ve cried so many tears and fear has controlled a lot of my nights. Many nights I tiptoed into her room to see if she was still breathing. She still struggles with periodic depression over the lack of friends and the struggle to fit in. She said to me one day this year, “All I want is one friend. Just one. What is wrong with me? Why does no one ever like me.” Doesn’t everyone deserve a friend?

I want to leave these words to all the children/teens out there who are hurting. You aren’t alone and you matter. Your thoughts and feelings matter. Bullies are bullies because they are hurting inside. As long as they keep you down, then they feel better about themselves. Take your power back. Stand against bullying. No one deserves to be treated with anything but kindness. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s them. You are good enough and pretty/handsome enough. We are all made different. That is what makes the human race beautiful. School is a phase in life and in time it will be part of your past. Do not let the bullying you have endured at school define who you become. Change your internal dialogue to something powerful. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are worthy. We all deserve love. Don’t let the bullies win. Rise above them all and turn your life into something you can be proud of.💋

Jane C. Brady

What is Equestrian Therapy?

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