Help from the horses
When Haley first came to TASC (Eliada’s therapeutic animal program) she was very scared of the animals. She would hold onto staff, and often refused to go into the horse field.
One day Carrie, our TASC Manager, was taking Talula, our mini horse, out of the barn, and Haley decided to help. This moment was the start of Haley’s success story.
Haley started asking more questions and learning about how horses communicate. She started paying close attention to Talula. She began brushing her and taking her out to graze in the pasture.
It wasn’t long before she could put a halter on Talula all by herself. After learning about Talula’s boundaries, she slowly started coming into the field with the big horses. She carefully observed their interactions with each other and with other students. Sometimes she would spend the whole class time sitting in the grass just quietly observing the herd. She started to trust them and feel safe with them. She eventually began to pet them, and in no time at all was leading Isis, one of our biggest horses, out of the barn to the pasture all by herself.
Haley quickly became one of the best barn helpers. She helped to feed the horses, clean up after them, and wash and brush them. She began noticing if the horses were tense or uncomfortable, and started to anticipate their needs. For example, Carrie remembers one day when she was washing a wound on a horse named Joe. He was fidgeting, making the task difficult. Haley was there, saw what Joe was doing, and fed him some grass so he would stand calmly and let Carrie finish what she needed to do.
In her time in TASC she went from being super tough to being enthusiastic, patient, and full of empathy and kindness for all the animals. Through building trust with the horses she began to trust in herself and build up her own confidence.
In fact, when she was leaving Eliada, another staff member remembers Haley confidently reminding her peers how to identify someone’s feelings through their gestures and tone of voice.
Congratulations Haley! We are so impressed by all your achievements with the horses!