The Story of Reneé Siahpush
Reneé Siahpush owns Hearts Before the Horse, an equine-assisted counseling service offering solutions for parents and children. Reneé is a licensed social worker and has been counseling families for over 20 years. In her current practice, she uses horses to help children heal from traumatic experiences.
Reneé is passionate about what she does for a living and believes this is what she is put on this earth to do: to help children build confidence, resilience, find hope, heal relationships, and understand how their energy affects the relationships around them. Reneé shared that her two horses are her most valuable employees, they are central to her counseling and her business.
Before the pandemic
Before the pandemic, Reneé worked incredibly hard to keep her costs down in order to make her services accessible to as many people as possible. During the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to offer services to her regular clients in the way she had been before, yet the overhead to care for the horses is still an ongoing cost for her business. Reneé has not been able to find a way to provide for these expenses through normal avenues that other small businesses have been able to use during this time.
Heart Before the Horse services are considered an essential business. However, Reneé is taking the health of her clients and their caregivers to heart. It is a balancing act she could not have imagined having to attempt. On one hand, is the worry that the progress she has made with the children she works with will regress over time. On the other hand, is the concern if she were to open her practice again somehow the virus would spread during a counseling session and go back to the child’s home infecting their caregivers who are part of the most vulnerable population.
To balance these fears and worries, Reneé is using creative ways to keep in touch with her clients, like making phone calls daily and offering video chats to keep the relationship with her clients moving forward.
Also weighing heavy on her mind from the recent turn of events was the hard realization that she needs to find new forever home for her business and her two horses. The place she has been working from will no longer be available. It was a beautiful act of bravery and vulnerability that she streamed on Facebook, asking for help to find new pastures and forever homes for her two horses and her business. Her hope is to find a place where the owners of the pastures share her vision to be a consistent, stable place for children to heal. Reneé struggled with allowing herself to be vulnerable in such a public way. Her feeling is that she should be steady and able during this crisis. For awhile this held her back from asking for help. Bravely she moved to the other side of vulnerability, understanding that in her moment of need maybe someone else would hear her story and understand they are not alone in needing help from others.
A roller coaster Of emotions.
Reneé has been on a roller coaster during the pandemic; one she feels most people have been on. She has three children, two of them living in hot spots for COVID 19. One of her children recently made the cross-country move from the East Coast to the West Coast. The family had been planning the move before the outbreak. Making the decision to isolate themselves for 14 days and taking a plane ride cross-country, with a toddler in tow, was one that was not made lightly. Thankfully, the 14 days and some have passed and no one is sick. One of her grandchildren is a senior graduating in the Seattle area this year. He was just accepted into the college of his choice, however, was told at least for the fall, he may be taking distance courses. The excitement of being accepted into his school of choice was not lost on his grandmother she was so incredibly happy for him. However, she understands the disappointment of not being able to go away to school and experience the college life for himself next Fall, not to mention having to miss his high school senior prom, graduation, etc.
we are not alone in feeling these emotions.
The roller coaster of emotions that Reneé feels can be hard to deal with. Hearing Reneé tell her story reminded me that we are not alone in feeling these emotions. Some days are definitely better than others. Sometimes there is joy to be found, always there are things to be thankful for, sometimes it is a really sticky situation. Reneé said that one of the tools she is currently using to keep herself healthy is allowing herself to experience grief every day. Reneé explained that in times before when she experienced grief, she never had to ‘allow’ herself time every day to feel these emotions. However, during this time she finds it helpful to set aside time every day to let the waves of grief wash over her. She explained she does not sit in her grief for an entire day, but instead acknowledges it, feels it and processes it the best she can. She practices daily gratitude and taking it one day at a time.