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Bruins Horse Around With Season a Week Away
By: UCLA Athletics

Aug. 18, 2011

With practice in full swing and a week to go until the start of the 2011 season, the Bruins took a break from the gym and went through some team bonding via equine therapy.

"During the preseason, I'm always looking for creative ways for the team to bond together and get some good rest time from practice," head coach Michael Sealy said. "But over the course of someone's four-year career, you don't want to repeat what they keep doing bonding-wise. I've been interested a lot in equine therapy and I've learned about it in the past. I felt it would be a great way to get the girls involved and learn about each other in an entirely different venue."

One of the biggest challenges for the players was interacting with horses, something some had never done before.

"We worked with trying to connect with the horse," senior Lauren Van Orden said. "They told us how horses have a very good intuition about body language and how they can tell how you are feeling, so we worked a lot in groups on how to approach the horse and how to make it do what you wanted to do."

But when the horses didn't do what the players wanted it to do, frustration arose.

"When you have a task at hand and it's going great and you have any self doubt or you get frustrated, then all of a sudden the horse goes on absolute pause and stops, which makes you more frustrated, so you have to work on different solutions," Sealy said. "It was interesting to see them work through their frustrations."

Many interactions involved playing games, individually or as a team, including one game called Horse Billiards, where players attempted to guide the horse into a corner, or pocket, of the corral.

"When we had to herd the horses into the pocket, I had this great confidence and determination to put it in the pocket no matter what," sophomore Kelly Reeves said. "I felt like I had this power and I've never felt that before. I also learned to be patient, even when the horse wasn't moving, you had to find other ways to accomplish your goal."

Sealy was amazed at the horses' interactions and how it mirrored who and what the players were giving energetically. In the end, his main goal was for the players to learn about themselves.

"If we can find a way for them to become the best individual person they can be, that's when we'll become a great team."

The Bruins hold their Alumni match on Saturday at Pardee Gym inside the John Wooden Center. The match is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

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