Emma Mackintosh, I was born and raised in Northern Ireland, a
divided society where I observed oppression and developed a strong sense
of social justice values. My family and I were heavily involved in developing
and working in a international peace and reconciliation centre in Northern
Ireland, The Corrymeela Community.  From here my social justice values
grew and I went onto study a Social Work Honours Degree at the
University of Edinburgh and obtained further post-qualifying certificates in
Child Protection and Social Work, Narrative Therapy and Community work.
I have worked within statutory and not for profit Social Work roles in the
United Kingdom, Australia and now the United States of America. I believe
that people are their own experts in their own problems. I also believe in
the power of people connecting and sharing their stories as people are able
to see how their stories overlap in meaningful ways to inform, confirm,
contradict and challenge them.  Within my experience of growing up in a
divided society it has encouraged me to think critically about the social,
cultural and political context that people are living in and how this is
interpreted differently for each person.  When I first met Dr Swim she told
me that horses are relational and live in herds and how everyone that
comes to the ranch is part of the herd.  I gained a real sense of belonging;
and interconnection of each therapist, person and horse. I have seen how
people connect to the horses and then connect to themselves and others
and are hopeful about new possibilities. For example, I saw a woman who
had been in violent relationships and had lost hope and how after a while
she was able to walk Jack the biggest horse into his stable and feel
powerful and confident; I have seen a parent and child’s relationship soften
with the love that was shown between Theresa and Oliver (Mother and son
horse relationship).  The collaborative approach between people and their
networks and the normalcy of the horses make this a joyful place to begin the journey of healing.