He moved slowly, eyes fleatingly moving back and forth. Taking it all in. It was too different, too strange. So many new obstacles, noises and the wind carried smells he didn't understand. She was with him, just her, no one else. Where is my herd? Who's in charge? The wide eyes and rooted stance relayed a tension that permiated his entire body. This wasn't home.
I got a call from a client who adopted 2 horses this fall. They left their horse family and acres and acres of pasture to arrive at a small farm hours away. The horses had trouble adjusting. They didn't have their "support team". It was confusing and stressful. Great care was being given to them, but they were missing a feeling of safety and support of their family.There was no sence of peace, no comfort, no order. They needed help.
I could see the two horses as I drove up the winding driveway. They stood tucked into a corner of the pasture that faced the neighbours property. The neighbour with horses. They looked quite relaxed, taking comfort in the sight of the equines over the fence.
As the owner and I walked out to the pasture, the mare, a freindly gal, walked up to greet us. She liked people company, especially this lady, who she had met at her original home. They took to each other like long lost friends. When she met the mare, it was obvious she was accustomed to being in control in their group. The gelding honored her elevated position. Once he moved and were reduced to a herd of two, that all started to change.
Then a series of events that led to discomfort in their pasture, changed that dynamic. The gelding became very nervous, and he started to "rule the roost" and at times was aggressive with the mare. This, and the owner's worries about the two horses elevated anxiety , created an air of tension for both horses and the owner.
I was there to observe the situation and to see if I could bring peace to them with my Trust Technique knowledge.
The horses settled in a sheltered area and I began to relax, be still and get present with them. The mare easily slid into that peaceful atmosphere and relaxed.
The gelding moved his feet restlessly for a couple of moments. Then he too began to feel the lowering of thinking levels around him, and he began started to relax. I regarded him as his head dropped in little increments, releasing tension in his neck and head. His eyes drooped, he felt the sleepiness oozing into him, yet he struggled to stay awake...aware...alert, until he could not resist. He dozed. Body and mind at rest finally.
While I was regarding him, in between moments of being present, I felt a strong impression of his thoughts and feelings. His trauma of the move and an unnerving event in the pasture of a deer ripping through the fence has put him in "survival mode". In that state of mind, he knew he had to assert himself. So he took control of the herd. He had to, in his mind it was a matter of life or death. He didn't have a dam or sire to give him comfort and direct him to safety. It was up to him. I felt that message penetrate directly into my heart and soul. I knew he didn't want to be bossy, and assertive, it was exhausting and stressful. I could see by the way he soaked up the peace that he had not been able to rest completely for a long time. Now, with a confident leader in his presense nearby, he could. My calmness and getting present with him gave him the trust and confidence. He was able to hand over his leadership position temporarily and find some peace. Oh, how he needed that.
I showed the owner how to connect on that level, and with my coaching she was soon successful in helping him relax as well. She shared with me that as a beginner with horses she worried a lot about their care and welfare. She felt she wasn't always emotionally able to comfort and bring assurance to them. She was struggling with her own state of anxiety.
I explained the horses alway knew how she felt. They could feel her shift in feelings as she became more concerned and less confident. That flipped a switch in the gelding. He knew he needed to count on himself, and became a bit dominant with her. It was his way of directing her as well and stating his claim to the herd leadership role.
As we watched them relax, the owner was quite surprised to see how the gelding could slip into peacefulness so quickly in my presense. She had never witnessed him in that state of complete relaxation. I could see it helped her to know he was capable of releasing that tension. I assured her, that with practice, over time, they would both be on their way to a cooperative, peaceful relationship.
Interesting, isn't it? How our emotions are transmitted by our feelings to our animals. How they look to us for comfort and companionship in a way that allows them to feel safe, and be balanced in their heart and mind. The Trust Technique, sharing of peacefulness, empathy and compassion is a powerful tool to bring about a state of calmness, trust and cooperation.
It's very easy to judge an animal's behaviors as "bad" simply because we are confused as to why they act out or react the way they do. Most of the time, no...pretty much all of the time, unwanted behaviors are caused by fear. The gelding was in fear of being hurt or dying, just as our instincts of survival kick in to survive in very stressful situations. We need to bring balance and peace back into our loves. Animals want to leave peacefull as well. Horses have been hanging around with us for thousands of years. They empathize with us, we have struggled as well throughout history to survive. They know we can be good company. We can be there for each other.
Barb has over 30 years of experience in teaching people with horses. Now, she brings you to a new level of understanding of your animals, through meditation, intuitive training and employing a deeper sense of empathy with your animals.