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The Transformation of Diva - Final (?) Update

After a year and a half of trauma-informed horsemanship with Diva, I finally feel that we are at a place where most of the stored trauma energy has been released from her body. In the riding, she just feels like a young horse with minimal training. She still can get excited but can quickly calm herself if I can be calm in myself. She has learned how to trust in me and in my energy. In trauma recovery terms, I can now co-regulate her nervous system with mine. We are now ready to begin the training for her to be the trail horse that I thought I was buying. This is the fun part!

I have learned so much from the process of working through Diva’s trauma. And it doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that Diva came to me just as I was beginning my training to be a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She has been my most profound teacher of how trauma lives in the body and what needs to happen to allow that stuck trauma energy to be released.

I often see trauma arise in people who come out to work with my horses. There is something about the total presence, the always-in-the-moment ability of the horse, their ability to connect to the human and, at least for my horses, to allow the human to feel safe in their presence. Diva was able to do this with clients even at the beginning of her trauma recovery journey. This taught me that the trauma memories can be very specific to certain situations, and in other times, when nothing triggers memories of the original trauma, the horse (or person) may be very functional. In fact, I believe that the majority of people who carry traumatic memories in their body are highly-functioning members of society. The unfortunate part, though, is that this functioning comes at great cost. It often means that the person has a limited emotional life, as their emotions have been pushed down, shut off, exiled from their consciousness. It may also mean that their relationships with others don’t have the depth of connection that could be possible. You really could say that trauma is the loss of connection – to oneself, to others and to Source (or however you understand that which is beyond understanding). What Diva has regained – both in her own body and her ability to connect to me – is possible for anyone who yearns to heal and is willing to be curious and vulnerable about themselves, their stories, and their history. There are many paths to healing trauma, but since trauma energy is stored in the body, a somatic, or body-based modality, is often the most profound path. Somatic Experiencing is one such modality and I am finding that, especially when combined with an IFS (Internal Family Systems) approach to learning about the parts of ourselves, and in the presence of the calm and safe witness of a horse, profound healing is possible.

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