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This Story written by Eythan Rosel , a young lad of 18 years old who went through mental health break down due to been bullied at his work place, and relationship breakdown, and now on the road of recovery

In the last couple of months my life went from meaningless to so fully of meaning and purpose and I just want to thank everyone who has helped me and made me realise there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel , that I need to keep striving to be better. I moved back home and got my apprenticeship up here In chch thanks to mum amazing mum (Stacey)I’ve done things I never thought I could do like ride a Fucken horse 😂 I was shit scared of them but thanks to dad (Cain) and Terry I overcame that fear and have found my passion and my talent ( some might say 😂😂) and friendship with half a tonne animal (shamus)I’ve rebuilt my bmw e36 pretty much by myself, I’ve travelled with my mates(Ebony etc) to places I’ve never been or have been I’ve made true friends, dropped toxic people out of my life, made the most amazing memorable experiences ever and to think I was ready to take my own life.....! Just thank you all so much for being there for me and putting up with my early life breakdown/series of unfortunate events 

My name is James,

I've been a registered mental health nurse since 1996 and moved to New Zealand in 2001.

I have been fortunate to work across both Canterbury and the West Coast DHB in a variety of roles within mental health care.

Currently I am working in the crisis resolution service which is mental health emergency triage and assessment. 

Throughout my time and in all clinical settings I have witnessed the often devastating health and social impact of sexual abuse upon everyday people.

Essentially our justice system and prisons are full of men whose childhood was shattered by abuse which often, significantly transforms their world view, the world is no longer a safe place and is not to be trusted. 

The result can be marked and prolonged mental health issues, substance addiction and interpersonal difficulties. It becomes hard to form and maintain relationships in a world you no longer trust. 

Equine therapy can be a spark to developing trust through a connection of a different kind.

Terry King and I have both observed the initial trepidation, forced bravado and sense of awe that has accompanied the guys when their equine journey begins.

As we build on the development of a horse and rider relationship it's amazing to watch the change in tone and demeanour. Warmth, respect and responsibility are the cornerstones as each member of the group is tasked with the care of their horse and of each team member with whom they travel.

Self respect is our ultimate goal. We believe equine therapy to be a platform for having respect for others and hopefully a shift in the world view that leads to positive outcomes for all involved. 

James Sedgwick 

Registered mental health nurse, dip Ed

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Equine Therapy at St James Homestead

12-14 May 2021

CC ( MSAWC Member ) & Richard Bonar ( Peer Support )

CC was attending a 3 day, one on one equine therapy trip with Terry Kingi. I was invited to go with Casey as his Peer Support worker. Terry uses his ANZAC horses and provides food, accommodation, cooking and all riding gear and equipment. Alongside Terry is his wife Nikki, who provides healthy and appetising breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Phil Jones acts as the safety guide and mentor to the riders. Last but not least is Barney the Rescue dog who’s happy demeaner rubs off on everyone.

Day 1 had CC and I negotiating a steep and narrow road in his ute in a freak blizzard. That set the tone for the trip. It was going to be exciting. We arrived at 1230pm and unloaded our gear into the DOC hut which consisted of a large communal kitchen and dining area, 2 dorm size rooms which sleep up to eight in each, a toilet and bath/shower. Water was heated by fire(Old coal range) as was the general heating of the building.(Yunca)

CC was straight into reuniting with the horses (he had attended 2 group sessions previously) and saddling up for a ride and I set about chopping firewood in the snow to keep the fires cranking. It was snowing all afternoon. This is the first time ever that CC had been in snow and on his return from the ride he was full of excitement which led me into a reflection session with him one on one. That night, after a scrumptious pork chop dinner, we all sat and talked about the day and what is ahead for the next 2 days. All 4 men started to open up about their lives and what triggers their trauma. Off to bed mentally exhausted at around 9pm.

Day 2 started with a hearty breakfast and attend to the horses to get them ready for a morning ride. This is where CC and I, under Terry’s direction, fed and saddled the horses. It does not take long to establish a bond with Terry’s horses as they are responsive and well mannered (most of the time). Iobserved that CC was responding to the morning routine in a happy and focussed manner, as was I. Phil Jones, who runs a horse trek business from an adjacent building was taking a group riding so Terry and CC rode with them for some of the way and I went back to chopping firewood in the snow. Thankfully by then it had stopped snowing. Upon their return we all spent a time tending to the horses getting them ready for the night. That night after a tasty steak dinner we all sat around the fire (indoor fire, it was freezing outside) and reflected on the day. The other guys were looking perplexed when Terry and I started reminiscing about our time in the Army but this also created a great connection with Terry and myself. We discussed the traumas we faced while serving in peacetime and on active duty.

That night CC and I were both quite restless and at 3am Casey was up and pacing the room. I asked him if he wanted to take a walk in the freezing cold and dark. He agreed so off we went torches at the ready into the dark abyss of the early morning. During our stroll CC opened up about why he was restless. He had been triggered by the mattress on the bunk bed. It was the same colour and fabric as prison and it reminded him of his many years locked up. This was a significant issue for him as it created frustration, anger and heightened anxiety all at the same time. So, as we negotiated the potholes, creeks and scary sounds you only hear in the pitch black we talked about ways to combat this trigger. As we passed the horses in the dark, two of them walked to us at the fence. CC was so composed as he talked with them and you could hear the change in his tone and breathing. This is a great reason why Terry’s horses are needed to help men with trauma as they calm the brain, heart and soul.

We both ended up getting a couple of hours sleep even though we were told that our snoring prowess was high on the Richter scale. CC was up first and on Day 3 he and I cooked bacon and eggs for everyone at breakfast. Then it was the morning routine feeding and priming the horses for the day’s activity. CC and I were given the opportunity to saddle the horses on our own with Terry keeping a close watch on our confidence and ability around the horses. This had an immediate affect on CC as he was focused on something that made him smile and think positively about the day ahead.

CC and Terry joined a group of horse trekkers on a 17 km ride and, yes, I went and chopped more firewood and assisted Nikki with lunch.(A Tasty vege broth with cheese toasties) The late afternoon was spent looking after the horses on their return and getting them settled for the night. The night was spent reflecting on the past 3 days and discussing future trips for other men. CC decided to sleep in a lazyboy chair for the night but ended up on the floor. I have suggested that we bring a different mattress for him next time and he was happy that a solution was found. Reflection can bring solutions.

A great trip home as CC and I talked the entire trip about future steps we can take together in order to overcome the trauma we, as survivors, feel and endure.

A big thank you to Nikki who’s motherly instinct and cooking kept us well fed, warm and supported. To Phil who is a horse whisperer and a great bloke to talk with. To Terry for his wisdom, empathy and ability to create discussions around trauma.

To the Te Rito Group. Your funding was well spent. CC and I thank you all for this opportunity.

Richard Bonar

Peer Support

Male Survivors West Coast