BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– Growing up was anything but easy for Amy McClane.

“I was molested by a family member for a year when I was 9. I experienced date rape at 16, and was gang raped by 8 young men at the age of 17,” said McClane.

Now 50 years old, McClane said she didn’t realize how the trauma she endured as a child, would impact her future relationships and life decisions.

“When you’re traumatized and you don’t have control in those moments, then afterwards you want to control everything to keep yourself safe,” she said.

McClane is now saddling up to heal from that trauma, literally, through the means of equine therapy. It’s a project that has been made possible through Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and Living Waters Bridge Ranch.

“I had felt for so long that I had been carrying myself, but with that horse I felt light as feather,” she said.

The job of the horses is to take off the emotional load trauma survivors harbor, and as founder of Living Waters Bridge Ranch, Laura Bosco explained, the animals are more than equipped to do so.

“Horses can feel your heartbeat from four feet away, so if you’re stressed and your hearts racing that’s kind of a sign to them saying, ‘Hey what’s going on with you?’,” said Bosco.

During the therapy sessions, participants are asked to pick a song to they are comfortable with to help to get them relaxed while riding, in hopes they are able to fully let go of the pain they are harboring.

Bosco started her non-profit earlier this year, and as a sexual assault survivor herself, he said giving the gift of healing to other survivors is priceless.

“When you see them make that connection, and you see them take the moment and realize they are going to be okay, there are no words for that,” said Bosco.

As for McClane, she said she intends to keep riding, and encourages other struggling to seek help through equine therapy too.

“Until we let go of the past, we can’t move forward in a positive way,” said McClane.

To learn more about the types of therapy offered through Gulf Coast Children’s  here.