By Amanda Settle
Emily’s story is one riddled with brokenness—the kind that makes you feel sick inside.
She comes from a family that has experienced some of the worse types of trauma. For many kids who have a past similar to Emily’s, the journey toward healing and recovery is slow. Each child requires time to build trust and to share the pain that they‘d rather hide.
None of this was true for Emily. There was no hiding. The pain was right on the surface. She was raw, visceral and honest. Her actions seemed to plead that someone, really anyone, would listen. She needed to know that she was worth being heard. In the midst of the mess, her soul was desperate to be seen. She was convinced she was alone; the only person on the face of the earth who’d walked this horrific road.
But, she wasn’t alone.
From the first day I met Emily, she captured a special place in my heart. The connection that I felt with this broken girl was also felt by one of our small horses named Cassidy. This tiny mare’s fondness for Emily was different from what I’d ever seen her demonstrate before. Every time Cassidy—who was a loner in our herd— would spot Emily, her ears would perk up. Often as we ventured out into the paddock together, it was not uncommon for Cassidy to walk up the hill and meet us halfway with her silent, sweet greeting.
It didn’t take long before Emily’s time with Cassidy became a bright spot in her painful journey of walking through her past brokenness and into a new future of wholeness. I saw Cassidy’s presence minister peace when there was turmoil. The mare gave companionship when Emily was lonely, and she brought a steadiness to a hurting soul when it seemed that everything in life was being shaken. During Emily’s extra hard days, when talking seemed to only stir up the pain, I would quietly suggest that she trot Cassidy around the arena on her own. Without fail, I’d hear her sweet little voice, singing to Cassidy as she rode toward freedom. Within this simple place—for a moment—pain was overridden with peace.
Rarely is there a quick fix for years of trauma. However, step by perseverant step, I’ve seen change. Cassidy’s gentle and ever-so patient nature has helped to build Emily’s confidence and has empowered her in ways I can’t quite explain.
Emily recently expressed in her own words what Cassidy has meant to her:
* Name has been changed