Many may ask whether the combination on EMDR and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy #equilateralemdr (otherwise known as Equilateral EMDR) really works. Perhaps like me you had an unscheduled dismount. It likely has upset the relationship that you once had with your equine. You may now be fearful of what to expect upon mounting your equine again. While you may put on a great game face, you know things have changed. This can have a more profound effect if we are older. Being 20 and having an unscheduled dismount is much different than being older and realizing our mortality.
I would like to share my story in hopes that my words will help you take the next step and call us to help you get #backinthesaddle. It started with obtaining a new mule. Mulligan was 13 years old, had been trail ridden, rode in parades, and was shown as a jumper and halter class in his past. From all accounts he was a good all-around mule. We had him transported from North Carolina to a boarding facility in PA while we were preparing our ranch for a permanent home. My wife and I felt that this might give us a good opportunity to get to know Mulligan and him us in a controlled environment.
It started off OK. Mulligan was cautious and leery at first as all mules generally are. I did some ground work with him as Charlotte was working with the other mule Socks, we purchased at the same time. Things were progressing to the point where I felt it was time to saddle him up to ride. I had just purchased a new saddle and things were not adjusted as they should be. I got in the saddle while someone else was adjusting the stirrups. I was feeling uncomfortable as something did not seem quite right. I tried to ignore it (bad idea). Mulligan seemed nervous and crowded. I did not have the reigns (another bad idea). Mulligan decided that he needed to escape from whatever he thought was going to harm him and bolted. I was not prepared. He ran to the edge of the fence and threw me up against it. Thus the unscheduled dismount. I was a little dazed. I found myself on the ground. I looked at my left hand and noticed my finger was dislocated. A trip to the hospital discovered that my index finger had been chipped and dislocated, an injury that has left my finger somewhat limited in mobility.
After that incident, I noticed that my relationship with Mulligan had changed. We moved them from the boarding facility to our property, but he was avoiding me. I noticed I had some trepidation about riding him. I had no problem getting on a horse, but the mule relationship had changed. I put on a good game face but he could tell I was faking it and I knew he was no longer sure of me. It was then that we realized that not only was I traumatized by this experience, so was he. I wanted to ride him. I wanted to feel that connection with him, but something was lost. I now had a constant reminder that I was no longer that Marine who could shake off anything. I was mortal. I was fractured and so was he. I did not know how to repair it.
Charlotte and I went to Arizona for Equilateral EMDR training. While there I had the opportunity to work on my trepidation and fears and asked the instructor if I could be a volunteer for the demonstration. The instructor led me down the path of discovering that the feelings I was having was a culmination of many traumas that I had experienced in my past. It was not just a matter of an unscheduled dismount but a more complex series of feelings about myself, inadequacies, and not being able to protect myself or others. Working through these was emotional and enlightening at the same time. I discovered parts of me that I didn’t realize had existed. I felt hope that this fractured relationship could be mended.
Returning from that trip we noticed an unexpected change in Mulligan’s behavior. Where he would avoid me he was now following me! He wanted to be in my presence. He went from avoidance to jealousy if I would spend time with Lauren, our 3rd mule. It was then that we realized that not only did the Equilateral EMDR help me, it helped him as well! The couple of hours spent on Equilateral EMDR had not only made tremendous progress in helping me heal, it transferred to Mulligan as well!
My relationship with Mulligan has continued to grow. I am grateful for my experience and that I have a first-hand testimony of what it can do for you. So before you stop doing what you love and get rid of your equines, call us first! We can help you get back in the saddle again!