When “Mary” * was young, her mother was pregnant with her seventh child and abusing drugs and alcohol. Her father had the same addictions. So, the state removed her from her home.
Mary was placed in three different institutions before she came to Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch. Because of the trauma she had suffered, when she got to the Ranch she was angry. She would physically attack the staff and other youth. She also suffered from anxiety and depression.
Mary gravitated to the horses. She is Native American and consistent with her culture, she chose a “spirit animal” when she was young. She chose horses because she feels she connects with them.
Vanessa Grossman, the equine therapist at the Ranch shared, “It’s almost like she sees their personalities as if she knows them.”
Mary quietly watched the Ranch horses during her ﬁrst session. But the next session, Mary talked about the horses like she had known them for years! Now sometimes Mary, her therapist, and Vanessa will just go out in the pasture to observe and discuss the horses’ interactions with each other.
Mary relates a horse’s actions to a speciﬁc situation in her own life and they talk about it. For example, Mary explained, “Some of their moods change . . . You don’t know what they feel, and you can’t know what people’s feelings are right away [either].” She also explained that some horses are nicer than others, just like people.
Mary has really connected with a horse named Shiloh. Mary says they picked each other because they have similar personalities. They are both kind.
The horses remind Mary of home and help her feel at peace. She explained, “It makes me feel really, really great because I get to see my spirit animal.” Mary’s dad died last year. But with equine therapy, she is calmer and doing much better.
The Ranch is able to give youth the chance to work with cattle and horses because of generous support from people like you. The Ranch receives no government support for these programs, but they are offered because we know they work!
It costs $375 per week to run the horse program. Please consider making a gift today to allow this gift of healing to children like Mary!
For the Kids,
*Name changed to protect individual’s confidentiality.