Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bernadine Fried Describes the Benefits of Equine Therapy

Bernadine Fried
A respected and established therapist based in the Los Angeles area, Bernadine Fried is committed to going the extra mile to assist clients in their recovery from trauma and addiction. Bernadine Fried credits Equine therapy with offering clarity and insight to her clients as they embark on the path towards health and wellness.

Q: What was your first memory of riding horses?

Bernadine Fried: It all began when I was about 10 years old, riding horses on a ranch in Arizona. From that point on I was hooked.

Q: How were you able to enjoy this activity closer to home?

Bernadine Fried: Eventually I found a riding stable in Hollywood called Sunset Stables.

Q: Have you ever purchased a horse?

Bernadine Fried: In my teens, I purchased a horse and spent hours and hours in the barn. My horse Penelope was my best friend.

Q: How did your relationship with Penelope progress in later years?

Bernadine Fried: As I grew up, partying, school, boys and other activities took my attention away. At the age of 17, I sold Penelope and basically stopped riding horses for a while.

Q: What happened after your teen years?

Bernadine Fried: My life spun out of control until after my 26th birthday, when I finally became sober.

Q: When did you get back into horses?

Bernadine Fried: After celebrating my fifth year of sobriety, I rented a horse to go on a trail ride. I had the most enjoyable time riding this small and spirited buckskin horse.

Q. Was it just like old times to be back on a horse?

Bernadine Fried: Indeed it was. I felt joy.

Q: What was the horse’s name?

Bernadine Fried: His name was Buck. Shortly after we were introduced, we rode through the hills of Griffith Park.

Q: Do you remember your first impression of Buck?

Bernadine Fried: Buck was mischievous, spirited and playful and I connected with him.

Q: How did Buck bring renewed enthusiasm to your life?

Bernadine Fried: On the 6th anniversary of my sobriety, my husband Alex gave me the gift of a lifetime and presented me with Buck.

Q: What was Buck’s history?

Bernadine Fried: Buck was actually a rescue horse who had previously been in the hands of an abusive owner.

Q: Where did you place Buck after your husband purchased him?

Bernadine Fried: He earned his own private stall with fresh shavings and a full supply of carrots. Every day I groomed him before we took a long ride together. Unfortunately, due to past traumatic events, he often bolted and bucked for no reason. He lived up to his name, Buck.

Q: How did Buck grow out of this habit?

Bernadine Fried: A trainer named Jose helped Buck regain his strength and confidence. Jose and I worked with Buck on the trail and in the arena. His journey inspired my efforts to be certified as an Equine therapist.

Q: With which organization are you certified?

Bernadine Fried: I am certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

Q: Why is this experience with Buck such an inspiration for clients?

Bernadine Fried: Buck has been a popular therapy horse for my clients who are struggling with PTSD and addiction. Given his own recovery from trauma, he is the true epitome of a complete transformation.

Q: Where does Buck reside today?

Bernadine Fried: Buck is now retired and lives in Sunland. My daughter and I ride Buck quite often and feed him lots of carrots. My daughter’s horse Muffin replaced Buck as our therapy horse.

Q: How does Equine therapy work?

Bernadine Fried: Well first of all, it’s important to note that the therapy occurs on the ground. Clients don't ride the horses during therapy.

Q: Given your past experiences, why is Equine therapy so effective?

Bernadine Fried: Many clients with a history of addiction and trauma, the traditional method of talk therapy is ineffective.

Q: What are the specific lessons drawn from these therapy sessions?

Bernadine Fried: Horses read energy and have proven to be excellent assistants to therapists by providing an opportunity for clients and the therapist to discuss feelings, behaviors, and patterns revealed during the sessions.

Q: What strategies do clients learn from the horses?

Bernadine Fried: Clients learn about boundaries, assertiveness, self esteem and other basic tactics to assist in their recovery.