Operation Underground Railroad is honored to partner with the Metropolitan Equestrian Team (MET), bridging the gap between survivors in need of healing and horses who can provide immense therapeutic value. Equine therapy offers a natural and holistic therapeutic space for a survivor to cultivate on the path to personal transformation. Executive Director of MET, Jane DaCosta, and O.U.R.’s Aftercare Team have worked cohesively together to offer an experience for the survivors to both gain education, and benefit from the therapeutic advantages of being immersed in horseback riding.
The Metropolitan Equestrian Team is an organization that offers both horseback riding and an educational curriculum. MET partners with over 400 colleges and universities across the nation, to get individuals involved in the sport, while also promoting curiosity for the academic components of equine therapy that the organization provides. MET has seen the most progress with survivors who are at the point in their journey who have a desire for personal empowerment, and want to learn to overcome challenges that are bound to present themselves in the environment. It’s pivotal the survivor has a deep yearning to lead their future, to truly benefit from the many psychological and physical benefits of this form of therapy.
“Equine therapy offers an even playing field for someone to take the opportunity that’s in front of them and create the road of healing,” said Executive Director Jane DaCosta.
Jane continued, “When you have an opportunity of horseback riding and really take that moment and make it your own, bonding with that horse, getting past the challenges, and making that connection with an animal -- there is nothing that can stop you from there.”
Jane has had the opportunity to work with survivors through O.U.R., as she guides them and teaches them the many facets of bonding with a horse.
Oftentimes, the pain or trauma that a survivor is feeling is pain that is not visible. It resides in their anxiety, in their heart, in their brain. However, those emotions are sensed immediately by the horse, which is one of the many unique experiences that horseback riding provides.
When a rider is placed on a horse, the horse can pick up on every single emotion that the survivor is experiencing. It is a feedback loop of constant communication that occurs between the survivor and the horse. This bond is one of the profound aspects of this holistic healing modality. The requirement to feel, engage, and experience one's emotions is a transformative process for both the horse and its rider.
“Our goal is to always see them own the moment and steer them in the direction that they want to go to, on their own. Then they can say ‘I did it’ - there is nothing more beautiful than this,” - Jane DaCosta, Executive Director of Metropolitan Equestrian Team.
Operation Underground Railroad has the continuous privilege of providing equine therapy to survivors through their partnership with the Metropolitan Equestrian Team. O.U.R.’s Aftercare team is beyond grateful for the healing that Jane DaCosta and others in the organization provide for survivors on their path, and the partnership will continue to be a space of healing and personal empowerment for each survivor who leaps into the unknown.