– By JoAnn Richi
Baylie is eight years old. Born to a crack addicted mother and alcoholic father, removed from her parents at six months covered with bruises and cigarette burns, Baylie has spent her childhood shuffled from one foster home to another. She rarely speaks, makes little eye contact with adults, shows no interest in playing with kids her age, and recoils from any attempt at physical affection. Baylie’s ability to connect with anyone, or anything, seemed nil, until the day she met a horse named ‘Steady.’
Baylie got very lucky. Her court appointed therapist has found a way to combine her own love of horses with the little known, but rapidly evolving field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
Once a week Baylie gets to go to the stables, be out in the sunshine, hold out an apple for ‘her horse’ to nibble from her hand, to pat, brush and talk quietly to him about the things she does not want anyone else to hear.
For children like Baylie, who have never been able to trust people, a horse can become a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world. Suddenly something big and powerful leans in, nuzzles you and looks you right in the eye. There is nothing to fear; this animal will not leave you, he will not betray you. With a trained Equine Assisted therapist, a child like Baylie can be gradually introduced to forming a relationship with this animal. This ability to bond, perhaps for the first time in her young life, will then hopefully expand allowing her to trust and connect with the wider world and to the people who exist within it.