The New Year of 2014 is here and with it the opportunity to make great strides in recovery. It\u2019s also the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac, related to the Chinese calendar. At The Ranch, there\u2019s no better time or place to find your way in sobriety, especially if you like horses. First, let\u2019s look at some of the character traits associated with the horse: strength, energy and an outgoing nature. Horses are also companions, known for their ability to be compassionate and to return affection. They\u2019re intelligent, honest, friendly and open-minded, all traits that humans can strive to cultivate as well. What Horses Teach Us Horses love to roam free, with or without a rider. Horses have a positive outlook and are normally very healthy. They love to give of themselves freely and will be quick to respond with affection to someone who openly displays it to them. That is why The Ranch offers equine therapy \u2013 a horse demands nothing in return for our love, except a little human kindness. What we get in return, however, is boundless in nature and spirit. Horse companions are always up for a good time. They\u2019re happy to be in the company of others, even those who may be going through a rough time in early recovery. They sense the need for comfort and they offer it up freely and completely. Talk about a guaranteed positive return. Where else can you get such love and affection with no strings attached? Horses also like to stay at peaceful places. They feel right at home at The Ranch. Being quite sociable, horses enjoy communicating with the people around them. And there are always new people at The Ranch with whom to become acquainted. As a friend, a horse will never let you down. That\u2019s due to their inherent trustworthiness. If you are sad, they\u2019re readily willing to help ease your pain with a gentle nudge and a soft nicker. Equine Therapy at The Ranch Equine therapy is a creative and innovative modality for addressing a wide range of therapeutic needs. Clients at The Ranch develop a living relationship with the horse, learning to communicate through body language and to connect, both emotionally and spiritually. Clients are encouraged to engage with the horse. This builds the foundation for a mutual relationship that allows both the person and the horse to learn from each other. The best part about equine therapy is that you don\u2019t have to love horses or working with animals to benefit from it. There aren\u2019t any hard and fast rules about how you should respond. You respond in whatever way you feel. Most clients find that they see something in themselves or the horse that resonates. Many clients come to The Ranch feeling closed off from life, hiding from others, and masking their pain by submerging it and coping by using various addictive substances. They\u2019ve met with rejection, have a confused sense of self or lack personal identity, have unmet needs for unconditional love, a fear of inadequacy or difficulty making decisions, and have profound needs for support, nurturance, identity or protection. Our staff looks for ways to help clients reconnect to their inner feelings and their corresponding inner needs by teaching them how to find meaning in interactions with horses. This is a first step in the goal to interact with other humans. Clients test new possibilities in life by taking initial risks with another living being, a horse, before moving on to more challenging interactions with other humans. Equine therapy, then, provides an opportunity for addressing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, and core issues around addiction and compulsive behaviors. Equine therapy offers clients an effective and creative way to learn about: \tSelf-worth and personal integrity \tEffective communication \tHealthy relationships \tThe value of respect and trust in relationships \tThe dynamics of power in relationships \tAssertiveness vs. aggressiveness \tAddiction recovery \tEating disorder recovery \tHealing from trauma \tRespect for diversity and individuality \tThe importance of teamwork and community It\u2019s the year of the horse. There\u2019s no better time to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to heal with the gentle horse companions at The Ranch. Your four-legged friends are ready and eager to welcome you on your recovery journey.