Horse therapy for neglected children helps reunite father & son

Horse therapy for neglected children helps reunite father & son

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SEELEY - For six long months, Julio Ocegueda Sr. says that he did not see his son or have any contact with him. A judge revoked his custody, ordering Julio Jr. to stay with another relative. Today, Ocegueda credits, in part, horse riding for helping his son mend past emotional wounds and for inspiring him to be like his son and change for the better.

For Julio and his dad, life as father and son, is starting all over again. The two reunited just days ago after being apart for six months and already Julio says that their relationship is growing stronger by the day.

"He's being a great dad. I hope that he gets more into God, that he teaches me and my brothers and sisters, just more about God".

"I didn't love him the way I should've loved him. I've noticed that since I've been worshipping the Lord and trying to follow the Lord that I am now more concerned for him, I ask him things, I talk to him".

Julio credits horse therapy for giving him new-found hope and strength to heal his emotional wounds. According to counselors, simple tasks such as feeding the horses, saddling them up and riding them, instills confidence and trust in children who were once abused and neglected.

For Julio's father, the therapy of riding horses also brought back memories, of his own childhood and experience he also used as therapy. 

"I told Julio that when I was kid, I used to done that. Groom the horses, saddle them and that's something that I don't think I've ever told him. If it wasn't for the program I probably wouldn't have brought up the memory because I don't think into a lot of things".

In moving forward, Julio looks forward to letting go of the past, healing his emotional wounds, and building a positive and lasting relationship with his father.

And this journey to recovery started by simply riding a horse. 

"Just having him in my life and having my brothers and sisters, just us being a family again".

Although Julio doesn't have full custody of his son yet, he says that he is thankful for The CASA of Imperial Valley and The Kiwanis Club for sponsoring the horse therapy.

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