We are very proud to have Kathi McConnell as Director of Equine Programs at New Beginning Ranch.
Kathi, who is also an RN, has an extensive history of training horses and riders for 25 yrs. She has proven extremely gifted in inspiring confidence in men who have never been around horses or have a fear or uncertainty of them. Her ability to read the horses and reflect on the cause of their behavior enables her to help the men discover relational behavior patterns that effect their relationships with family, peers, spouses and partners.
This program has proven to be extremely valuable to our men and very popular...they work with the horses at least twice a week.
Some of the men take to riding quickly and are able to then ride in a larger arena and, if appropriate, on one of the many trails in the gorgeous surrounding mountains, with an instructor.
It is virtually impossible to "hide our stuff" when working in close proximity with a horse. As prey animals they are incredibly sensitive to our emotional/relational self. They mirror back to us our issues that we need to look at for sustained recovery. Their experience with the horse magnifies these issues that without change will inhibit their journey to recovery
Many people have asked "What happens in equine therapy? I've heard of it, but I don't get it".
A simple client experience answers this...a very smart, young client struggled to connect with others...a common issue among addict/alcoholics. He covered the pain of isolation with a brash sense of accomplishment and arrogance. His first experience with his horse in the round pen mirrored those issues.
He kept telling Kathi "I've ridden before, I know what I'm doing". He ignored any help from her. After numerous attempts, Kathi stepped back and told him "OK go ahead and do the exercises the men have already done in the round pen". The horse ran away from him and acted fearful - she kept moving away from him, refusing to let him get near her.
Finally he stopped trying and just stood there. Kathi asked him "what's going on?" He started crying and said "I don't know why this horse doesn't like me". Kathi asked him about his relationships with people. He said "this is what always happens when I try to get close to people..they back away".
Kathi gently said "you're very smart and sure of yourself..that doesn't help you with these horses or people. You brushed her only the bare minimum and never spoke to her at any time. She picked up your impatience and lack of any attempt to connect with her and she responded with distrust and moving away".
This was a major turning point for him on his recovery journey. His peers had been giving him similar feedback, but when a 1200 lb horse backed away from him, he got it on a whole different level.
By the time he graduated, he and his horse were a great team and he was very different with peers...asking for help, listening, helping others and stopping his constant correction of others.