My name is Niki and I started working with Harmonie during grief therapy sessions in September 2017, two months after my husband died suddenly of a stroke. I was raised loving and riding horses, but this was something altogether different than anything I had ever experienced. The first time I reached out my hand to Harmonie, she put her sweet muzzle in it, moved up, and rested her face on my chest. From that day on, Harmonie was able to reach in and draw out whatever emotions I was experiencing, even when I didn’t know what I was feeling or how to express myself. She just leaned in and took it all upon herself.
Without a halter on, Harmonie never walked away during sessions regardless of where we were—in her paddock, the round pen, or a stall. One time a lady and her horse were close to us and were making noise. Harmonie put her head down and slowly swung her neck in their direction, then looked up at them as if to say, “Excuse me, we are working here.” Harmonie had the innate ability to tap into whatever I was feeling and hold onto it for me while I worked to process it, often with my face buried in her mane or my arms draped over her neck, crying. The time spent grooming her felt as though, with every brushstroke, she was helping me bring to the surface the overwhelming grief and hurt I had inside. There are no words to describe the love and gratitude I have, and will always have, for this sweet mare so aptly named Harmonie.
I recently started volunteering at Healing Reins and I wondered how Harmonie would respond, seeing me after several months. The first time I saw her, her paddock-mate tried to chase her off, but she held her ground and visited with me through the fence. The next time, she was in the arena. I walked up to the gate, and she came as close as she could get with her head over the board and stood there with me the whole time. She chose to work when she could have been playing or resting. Harmonie and my therapist, Lisa, have inspired me to become an equine facilitated psychotherapist, and I will be beyond amazed if I get to work with horses that are even half as amazing as Harmonie.
Niki L., Rider and Volunteer