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Less than six weeks ago my attitude towards horses could have been summed up in one word; fear. As a result of several unfortunate experiences I had as a child I came to the belief that horses were not only large and powerful but also preyed upon people. Further I thought that they could sense my fear and I was sure to be kicked or bitten if I got near a horse. I could easily envision these terrifying possibilities. As a result of these misperceptions I had stayed away from horses despite the fact that horses were my sister’s passion.

Then my sister told me about Gillian Vallis and Pine Knoll Farm. She told me that Gillian envisioned the farm as a place that was therapeutic for people as well as horses. I met Gillian, heard of her vision, saw the farm and the horses, and was told about a book entitled Horse Sense and the Human Heart. This book introduced me to the ways in which horses are a wonderful centerpiece around which to anchor a psychotherapy/psycho spiritual process from which humans can begin to heal and find their path in this life.

I was then introduced to the Round Penning experience whereby horses teach people how to help them to survive in the world of humans. I participated in a round penning workshop in which I watched others work in the round pen until I was ready to work in the round pen myself. I also learned much about the nature of horses.

As a result of these experiences my fear has turned into its opposite; love. Love for horses and love for the process of healing both humans and horses. I have now worked with several horses in the round pen. Through this process I have experienced healing and I have grown in self-confidence and self esteem. Most importantly I have found in horses a means to work therapeutically with my clients to facilitate their psychological and spiritual growth.

In less than six weeks I have gone from being terrified of horses to being in the saddle full of joy and bliss. As with all things spiritual all parties involved have benefited. I have helped horses, I have helped myself and I have come to share in the vision of Pine Knoll Farm as a place of healing for both horses and humans.

- Susan Lear MA, Kentucky, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychological Association

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