Healing with Horses is a program of TRU Community Care and a part of our grief services for youth coping with death and loss. This week we sat down with Raegan Gyorffy, the Director of Grief and Volunteer Services, to gain insight into the immeasurable value of the program.
While describing the group and how the horses impact the participants’ lives, Raegan says, ”The group is truly special. Horses are large and intuitive, able to mirror emotions, and provide a conduit for conversation and a good alternative to traditional group talks.”
The program runs for an 8-week period in the fall and again in the spring. Each week the participants meet for themed sessions that pair conversation with interaction and care for the horses. Youth are partnered with one another based on the similarity of age, their stage of grief, and their type of loss. Additionally, they are matched with a horse for added support. Each program has eight youth and up to six adults to ensure the safety and care for everyone involved.
A coordinator of the program expresses her experience and perspective of the impact the horses have in the participant’s grief process by explaining that,
“The relationship with the horse offers connection that helps ground the kids and breaks down barriers. We often see kids who are silent during the talking circle and come alive and expand once they are with the horses. It seems to offer a non-threatening space for kids to open up, move their bodies, and engage their senses in a way that gives them access to their emotions and thoughts. Also, being outside, getting exercise and having fun are all healthy ways to cope with big emotions!”
She herself has learned from the youth participants how to cope with grief and loss, the power of connection and being understood, and the importance of the power of feeling seen in our grief. One father told her that his son says “grief camp” is his son’s favorite activity of all the things he does for fun.
Stories like these are truly why Grief Services and specialized programs like Healing with Horses are so crucial to the heart of TRU Community Care. We could not do it without the heart and dedication of our staff, volunteers, families, donors, and overarching community.