It's All About the Journey
Updated: Apr 1
The horses in the barn at Courageous Connections are, well…connected. I met Natasha outside the stables and immediately dove into a lively conversation. A moment later, Tres stuck his head outside and, ears pricked forward, leaned toward us, clearly interested in what these people were doing. He had just finished his session with Natasha and was still engaged in their experience together.
She smiles at him. “I’m getting over my fear of horses,” she says. “I just fell in love.”
Her journey with horses and Courageous Connections began with her treatment for cancer. Through a friend’s encouragement and Cancer Lifeline, Natasha came to the sessions awash in fear, trauma, and deep anxiety. Gently guided by Leah, one of the therapeutic trainers, Natasha learned to make an unsaddled connection to the horses. She says it helped her redefine herself.
“I’ve learned to love myself more,” she says. “I hold a place for myself and only surround myself with love and life – and that includes horses. I’ve become more of a calm person which has helped me in my home life and in general. It started with Courageous Connections and then I’ve done more with it.”
In addition to her sessions at CC, Natasha has added riding lessons and begun training with PATH to earn certification as an equine therapy specialist. “I want to be like Leah,” she says. “I’ve never been so content and happy. Now it’s in my blood. I’ve turned anxiety into a passion.”
And her passion is leading her toward fulfilling a goal that has haunted her, working with veterans. She felt vast helplessness when a close friend, a veteran, lost his battle with post-war trauma and passed away. Natasha sees the journey she took in her fight with cancer as a possible way to help struggling veterans.
“It’s a huge challenge to take on, but it’s just in my heart.” When Tres whinnies, Natasha smiles and shrugs a little. “I think it’s something I’m meant to do. We’ll see.”
She intends to spread the kind of healing Courageous Connections offered her to others. As she knows, trauma caused by illness, domestic abuse, and fear can be eased by the connections made with the magnificent horses. For Natasha, and she hopes for others, it’s all about the journey.
Contributing Author: Susan Brown