Building Confidence—Felicity’s story

Felicity throws on her backpack and confidently heads out the door for school, wearing a smile. But this wasn’t always the case—far from it.

From a young age, Felicity was very hesitant around people she wasn’t familiar with. In grade school, she lived in intense fear, anxiety, and worry. She developed sensory fears, got picked on by her classmates, and would hide in her room to read in peace by herself. 

The verbal bullying kept chipping away at Felicity’s emotional well-being. In addition to her anxiety, Felicity began to struggle with depression. She started to isolate herself from the other students. She also found comfort by withdrawing to her room to read.  

The fear of being bullied confined Felicity to her home. The thought of leaving her “safe place” escalated her anxiety, causing a constant “need to know” in her daily life. She needed to know where she and her family were going, why they were going there, and who would be there. 

Felicity’s anxiety also had her plagued with fear and irrational thoughts. She was afraid of being left alone, getting lost, and even being kidnapped. She refused to go away with anyone except her mom and dad. Spending the night away from her home was out of the question. Felicity’s anxiety became debilitating for the family.

Then, COVID hit. Felicity was relieved when schools closed. She could be at home—her “safe place” with mom and dad—without worrying about school terrors. 

However, this was short-lived, and it wasn’t long into the pandemic before a whole new battle set in—fear of being sick and of others getting sick. COVID brought even more “unknowns”—Felicity’s most significant trigger for anxiety. 

Felicity started therapy with a psychologist who recommended she try animal therapy. Her mom found a wonderful therapy center that provided Hippotherapy—horse riding therapy—and was the beginning of Felicity’s healing journey.

Felicity’s personality is emerging through therapy at Renew Therapeutic Riding Center. Hippotherapy is helping her manage her anxiety and depression. She’s able to translate the skills from therapy to support daily life. She can now calm herself, be in front of people, and venture to places she isn’t familiar with—the “unknowns.”

It all played out perfectly,” her Mom says. “She started finding safe places outside the house with a few select family members and friends. She started talking more and more and learning how to deal with her feelings.

Felicity’s biggest WIN through Hippotherapy has been her confidence! Her interactions with the horses have given her the courage to try new things. She auditioned for theater productions, sings in the school choir, and attends birthday parties for friends. 

Family life has become much less stressful because Felicity can confidently leave the house with her parents’ help and the support of her three brothers. One of the biggest bonuses is more family time because Felicity no longer isolates in her bedroom.

Felicity’s parents are proud of the courage and confidence she’s gained through hippotherapy.  Now a teenager, she’s come so far from the girl who only felt safe when tucked away in her bedroom—her “safe place.” 

Felicity has even taken a bold step and started participating in horse shows—in front of an audience—which requires confidence and courage and is truly amazing. She also loves giving back to Renew through volunteering!  

Hippotherapy has provided Felicity and her family with HOPE, a word Felicity describes: “Even if you think you don’t have a chance at something, there will always be a chance—it’s worth a prayer and a try.”

Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover Hippotherapy, placing a financial strain on the family budget.  Felicity had come so far, and her parents were concerned about regressing if she had to take time away from therapy.

They reached out to Family Hope Foundation for a scholarship to help bridge this financial gap. Felicity was awarded a scholarship, making it possible for her to continue riding year-round.  

Through hard work at therapy, Felicity’s been able to replace fear with CONFIDENCE and anxiety with HOPE. The progress that had been set into motion would continue. 

Hippotherapy has given Felicity a healthy perspective. Felicity knows controlling a large horse isn’t as easy as some might think, but if she can deal with those big things, she can also deal with other big things in life.

I recently had the opportunity to see Felicity in action at the horse barn. Watching Felicity ride Babe at Renew was SO wonderful. She radiated confidence from start to finish. It’s almost as if her heart was shouting, “Look at me! I’m totally owning this!” Your eyes were just drawn to her confidence. 

Felicity dreams of being an author who tells tales of what she has been through. She wants to continue participating in horse shows and, most importantly, inspire others to keep HOPE. 


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