I had the good fortune to participate in The Meadows five day “Spirit” SE Equine Workshop in January. This workshop is one of a kind. “Spirit” combines Somatic Experiencing (SE) and Equine therapy. SE is a body-oriented therapy which releases trauma and regulates the nervous system. Equine therapy uses horses to mirror emotions and teach us boundaries and respectful collaboration which translates into personal relationships.
The moment I got out of my car and took in the surroundings I could feel my nervous system becoming more regulated. The sun was rising, the group was gathering around a fire, a rooster was crowing, and a train moaned in the distance. Visible were close to a dozen magnificent horses corralled nearby. Later, I came to know them as friends, teachers and healers. I was welcomed to this sanctuary by the facilitators, Colleen Derango, MA, LISAC, SEP and Buddy Uldrickson.
Colleen is an incredibly talented, seasoned Meadows trained therapist skillful in Somatic Experiencing (SE). She is warm, wise, grounding, and gifted. Buddy is an uncommon horseman. He is a master at handling and training horses naturally. A man of few words, he imparts “simple wisdom”. He incorporates his own SE training into his horsemanship instruction. Ever vigilant and steady, he eases the fear of the large animals.
“Spirit” is a great resource for those of us that have already done a great deal of personal work. It is unique, very different from the other forms of therapy I have encountered in my twenty-five years of recovery. I had profound insights and learned techniques to continue nervous system regulation. I was able to complete several pieces of experiential work throughout the week; some deep and others just necessary to integrate.
The relationship between horses and humans is unique. Horses are highly intuitive animals. Buddy told us, “horse give you what you need, not necessarily what you want”. This resonated; they present challenges and elicited emotions I may not have otherwise accessed. Without ever mounting a horse, I felt connected to them, myself and nature in a way I hadn’t for some time. They represented struggles in my life, and inspired me to stretch. These horses and facilitators helped me connect to my higher self, providing the guidance and the healing I sought in an organic way.