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Chapin's Story: Finding Calm in the Storm of Anxiety

Chapin was always an anxious kid. When she was 11, her parents divorced and then she made the difficult transition from elementary to middle school. The grief and the changes in her life triggered her anxiety and she vomited in class on her first day of middle school. Her parents took her to counseling and she was diagnosed with ADHD and high anxiety and was given medication, which helped. Then, when they saw that Windhorse was offering a class for teens with anxiety, they jumped on the opportunity. Chapin loves horses and had already attended summer camps with Windhorse. But the Practicing Mindfulness with Horses class was unique and extremely helpful for Chapin. 

Chapin’s Mom Frances explains: “Every week I saw a change in her temperament and her ability to process the stress and really take the space that she needed to calm herself down, calm her body down and tune into herself, which came from the mindfulness class with the horses.”

Chapin has severe test anxiety and she uses the breathing exercises she learned in the Mindfulness with Horses class before she has to take a test and other times she feels her anxiety coming on. “This is a kid who had separation anxiety her whole life, who cried at every single drop off for an hour at pre-school all the way through kindergarten, who struggled to learn, struggled to retain knowledge, who struggled to be focused and didn’t have good grades,” explains Frances. And this year she’s had all As and a couple Bs and it’s just mind-blowing!”

Chapin says she would not have attended a mindfulness class if it didn’t involve horses. She created a strong bond with her horse Blue and used her new mindfulness skills to calm him when he was anxious. They helped each other regulate. And by the end of her six-week class she was able to do yoga on his back, including lying down.

“It’s just amazing to see this child who can lay on the back of a horse and be completely calm,” says Frances. “And that speaks volumes about the program and what they’re learning and what she’s able to gain. Not only that trust, but also relieve her anxiety, trust other people, learn to trust an animal, and then take that into her regular life. When she does escalate, she recognizes it, she practices the breathing techniques.”

“Her Dad and I are so proud of who she’s becoming. And to see that she’s now got those tools that she can take on for the rest of her life, what a gift.”

Watch our video on Youtube to see Chapin's transformation:

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