This was written towards the end of my second year at Prescott College where I earned my Master’s of Art degree in Counseling/Psychology with concentration in Equine Assisted Mental Health. I wanted to share this because this is how my journey to become authentic and share my passion and knowledge with those who seek it all got started. To this day, I am truly grateful for having found this path.
I started this journey here to Prescott College because of a huge life change; I got divorced and found myself being a single mother. Being in that position, I knew that I needed to be more economically stable and deep down inside myself was a desire to “do something different”, however at that time, I didn’t know what that was. I remember talking to a friend of mine who was a school social worker and asked her how long it had taken her to get her credentials. She told me only a couple of years and then suggested Prescott College. I was a little familiar with the equine-assisted mental health field because we had gone to a workshop that was EAGALA based and with that I was interested. It felt “right” to me. I have always had a desire to help people and I love to work and be with horses, so getting a degree in equine-assisted mental health just seemed right. So, in the spring semester of 2011 I enrolled in Prescott College and went back to school seventeen years after I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science. All I can say is that things sure have changed. Now instead of going to classes, I get online and start typing away and in graduate college, no tests; just papers, papers, and more papers. It is a good thing that I like to write. I remember being so nervous and wondering if I had made a good choice. That question was answered when I went to my orientation and my first colloquium. After that long weekend, I knew that I was in the right place and working on the right thing for me. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. Little did I know how much personal growth I would be doing in the next couple of years. The growth that I have been doing has been very difficult at many times, yet I still feel that this is the next career for me. The journey is far from over but despite some very rocky times the journey has been worth all the effort. I sometimes wish that I had been able to start this journey a long time ago, but then I stop and think that this is the way it needs to be and I am okay with that.
I am now nearing the end of my second year at Prescott College and I can still remember going to my first equine intensive. I was so excited and scared to death at the same time. I remember coming onto Chauncey ranch for the first time thinking that I knew what to expect not only from the program but from myself as well. I was in for a shocker right away; from myself that is. I remember being told to go and pick out a bed in one of the bedrooms and then meet back outside to circle up. I wandered around and finally picked a bed and left my belongings. During the circle up it was stated that there were rooms up at the Cowboy barn and if anyone wanted to join Ian (since he was the only male in the group) we were welcome to move up there. We were encouraged to go where we felt we needed to go and I remember sitting there going “I need to go there!!” I was so shocked at myself. I know that usually I wanted to be with people and here I found myself NOT wanting to be with people. That one left me puzzled and for awhile I fought the feeling. Finally, I decided that the feeling was not going to go away and that I needed to move up to the Cowboy barn, and so I did. I amazed me because I think I was expecting people to judge me for moving. That has been a constant theme in my life and here I was in a place that being judged wasn’t happening. Wow, that was huge for me. I think that was the start for me to getting back and redeveloping my self-confidence which I had not realized I had lost in the many years I had been married. The ripple effect from me moving to the Cowboy barn was not just felt at the Intensive but when I got home as well. The next couple of months after that first Intensive were some of the roughest times I have had since I was a child. However knowing that I was going back to Chauncey ranch helped me to get through those rough times. I was beginning to have resources to draw from and realize and accept that it was okay for me to ask for help and to start being myself. An example of this is at the first Intensive I didn’t wear my baseball cap like I usually do, though I did wear my sunglasses (I do live in Arizona, you know). Those two items are part of who I am and I found that at subsequent Intensives I didn’t care about if I was wearing them or not; I just did and it felt great to just be me and to know that I was in a place that I felt safe enough to do. Something very new for me in my life. And I have tried to carry that feeling with me even when I am not at Chauncey ranch. I know that I am more saddened about the news that the upcoming Intensive will be the last one at Chauncey ranch. That news has hit me harder than I had imagined and I know it is because of the connection that I have developed with not only the ranch but the people who come and share the ranch with me. I know that there will be other opportunities to do that in the future in other venues, but Chauncey ranch will always hold a special place in my heart because that is where I feel my journey to finding myself began.
As I look forward to my future, I know that there are many obstacles that are going to be in my path, but after this year of equine courses and the other courses that I have taken at Prescott College, along with the work that I have done with myself, I feel better that I will be able to handle those obstacles better. Over the past year I have started to feel my self-confidence return and then start to build. I am looking forward to completing my degree and becoming a licensed equine-assisted counselor. I have started to see life in different ways; ways that I thought didn’t even exist. I have been pushed and pushed myself into becoming a better person and even though the journey was not easy, I do not have any regrets and I am glad that I have started this journey. I know that Prescott College and the equine-assisted mental health program came into my life at the right time and for the right reasons. And for that I been humbled and grateful.
Namaste, my friends.