When Owen, 14, came to Eagle Ranch, he felt like someone finally heard him and understood all the emotions he felt inside. That “someone,” it turns out, was a horse. For Owen, a silent, steady companion is exactly what he needed.
“At my house, it was almost never quiet. The physical volume of everybody yelling and my little brother and little sister crying and our dog barking . . . I had to yell just to be heard. In fact, that’s the reason why I talk loud now.”
The first thing he noticed when he arrived at Eagle Ranch’s campus of 315 peaceful acres was the silence. It was a major shift for Owen and has provided the respite he needed to get to the heart of his troubles. The Ranch’s equine program has helped him feel grounded and allowed him to be introspective.
“I’ve always loved animals, and I enjoy working with the horses—my favorite thing to do is go and talk to them. Horses are quiet, steady, and are very good listeners. They can’t really talk, but their eyes are very understanding. They can feel your pain, emotionally they can feel it. Horses allow me to see my emotions for what they are.”
Over the past two years, Owen has been hard at work with his counselor, houseparents and teachers to get to the root cause of his and his family’s struggles. Over time, Owen has become more aware of himself and what helps him when he starts to get upset.
“Horses are a calming force. Sometimes when I get really frustrated and I talk to my counselor, we will just walk down to the barn to go see the horses and pet them through their stalls. Horses allow me to calm down, to take a moment to breathe, and remind me that the world is not falling apart.”
Although Owen and his family still have work to do in the program, they are making steps forward every single day. Owen is learning how to handle his anger, anxiety and impulsiveness, all while understanding who he is and who God made him to be.
“When I came to the Ranch, I was always really tense, always ready for a fight, always ready to run. With horses, I feel like they don’t judge me for my actions that were rash. In some ways, the horses see me as God sees me . . . they see me as me, just a kid who is trying to get by and find his way.”