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Training Articles

Finding That Connection

The horse was one of the most dangerous I'd worked with, as she operated on sheer reactive memories. Mostly, those reactions were conceived from terror. There were no warning signs - this filly would merely swing around and come at ya to save her life, ears flat back, teeth bared or hooves flying.
This past Friday as I drove to my appointment in RI, I was asking, "OK, Lord. So what do I do today with this horse and her owner? What are we going to work on today?"

The reply I got was, "Do what is."

And that's all I got ... "Come on, Lord! What kind of answer is that? I need a plan, here. You know - a goal and steps to help this gal reach that goal!"

"Do what is."

Great! OK, well, I guess I'll punt for the afternoon.

My appointment was for a hour - this was only the 4th time I'd worked with this gal and her young filly straight off the track. The horse was one of the most dangerous I've worked with as she operated on sheer reactive memories. Mostly those reactions were conceived from terror. There were no warning signs - this filly would merely swing around and come at ya to save her life, ears flat back, teeth bared or hooves flying. The past 3 sessions were merely trying to figure out just what is going to reach inside that terror and pull out the true spirit of this horse without getting myself killed in the process.

She's a pretty little thing but man, her mind? What a mess! This poor little girl, just 4 years old, had probably experienced more terrorizing treatment from humans than 10 horses experience in a lifetime. She is so sensitive that all I had to do was LOOK at her hind end with intent and that hoof would fly in my direction. Focus on her face and her teeth would expose with intent on ripping me to shreds. I spent the first two sessions with her from the outside of her paddock just trying to soothe her and reassure her, getting some focus from her using clicker training. I could get her attention for approximately 3 or 4 seconds before she'd rip at me again.

The 3rd session I got in the paddock with her just trying to direct her feet a little bit as she raced around the perimeter, staying as far from me as possible and throwing kicks out almost rhythmically - aimed at my head. Just my mere presence in her space terrorized her.

I stood, quietly, not moving, just 'thinking' and feeling, while she whirled around me.

Her eyes were wild - I don't remember the last time I saw such white showing. The owner watched from the outside of the paddock. I held a lunge whip down by my side (not for pressure but for *my* peace of mind as protection if needed) - no pressure on this little filly other than my presence in *her* paddock which was clearly enough to keep her moving.

I began to tell her that some of her stopping places (she did stop now and then to frantically snatch bites of grass) were really my places - I simply stepped towards her (lunge whip still down on the ground dragging behind me) and she'd take flight again. This went on for quite awhile and by the end of the hour she would stop and turn to face me with a questioning look in her eye but still coupled with frenetic, frightened energy.

My Lord! What had been done to this little girl at the track!?!?!?! I couldn't even begin to imagine without my heart beginning to ache and my breath being constrained.

I left that day after I felt she had settled down and was more relaxed. I wanted her to relax just a bit with me. She did. But only a fraction. But still, better than where we began that day.

So, back to this past Friday. - "Do what is. Do what is. Do what is."

The owner admittedly has had little time to spend with her girl. She has other horses and animals plus works a full time job. So her time with the filly was rushed and fragmented. No time to just BE with her. So, Friday? She was going to BE with her filly. That's what I decided. She was simply going to be with her filly. Body AND mind AND energy.

She entered the paddock and the filly immediately came right up to her, shoved her head into her back then proceeded to try to bite her arm - all of this in one frantic movement. She 'sushed' her away and looked at me. I said, "OK, so start to direct her feet but QUIETLY! and 'softly'. I want you to exude nothing but compassion and love out to this filly while you direct her with your energy. Breath in - now breath out, s-l-o-w-l-y. When you want her to move or change direction take in a breath to the count of 2 then exhale to the count of 6 while you LOOK at her back end. You LOVE this filly. You CARE for this little girl. Let her FEEL that. And let her feel your energy as you exhale and visualize her changing direction with caring. "

And she did.

For the first five mins. or so the filly raced round and round, kicking up her hooves at her human but without the frenetic energy of the past couple of weeks. She then began to settle as I 'coached" her human from the outside of the paddock.

"Don't move, just LOOK at her and follow her with your eyes. Direct her with your energy. Make those walls of energy slide out from your eyes to block her path. To the left now. Now, to the right. Change her direction now, please." LOVE her to the right." And so forth. I mostly, tho, stayed quiet, only speaking when I saw her losing her focus.

Time melted into no time.

We were ... just, we were.

The transformation in the filly as her owner sent her love and direction with merely thoughts and 'doing what is' was amazing to watch. It was amazing to FEEL! Her body softened. Her muscles released and in a short time, her mind released.

The filly stopped running.

She turned to look at her human who shyly turned away, mirroring the actions of the horse.

The filly begin to blink as her head relaxed and started to come down and down and down. She began to chew quietly, just watching her human - wondering, what IS it that she wants? What IS it ???

And then - time stopped entirely. As if we were suspended in existence, the filly's owner reached her hand out, softly balled, and began to walk to her filly. Inviting her to reach out to her hand.

The filly's head came up slightly and then -- she extended her nose to sniff the lightly balled human hand that was extended to her. She sniffed then exhaled a huge, long, sigh and dropped her head down again. Her human took ahold of the halter and invited the horse to follow.

Time continued now to go on but in very slow motion as the two, the once terrified filly and her confused owner, walked around the paddock quietly, tentatively. The gal stopped; the filly stopped right behind her. The filly's eyes had become like liquid pools of trusting innocence. Her body had softened and her energy, that previous frenetic, terrified energy had released - it was gone. It was now relief and willing and soft.

"Do what is."

I did, we did and now, just a mere 1/2 hour later, I walked out of the farm gate to go home and as I turned back I saw a chestnut filly's head enveloped in the arms of a human who streamed tears down her face.

Just the two of them.

Suspended in time.

"Do what is."

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