A Perfect Storm

perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event. The term is used by analogy to an unusually severe storm that results from a rare combination of meteorological phenomena. (Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where one thing after another seems to be going against you?  It can really zap your energy and optimism!

Recently it’s felt a bit like that here.  When we moved to this beautiful part of the world, we knew that there would be some work to do on the outbuildings, and managing the land, but we thought that the house was sound and all we needed to do was move in and we could do any necessary repairs, etc, at our own pace.

However, this has turned out not to be the case.  Of course, this summer was one of the driest on record – even here in Wales.  But the day we moved we had storm Callum, and then in this last week we had storm Diana.  All that wind and rain tested the solidity of the buildings and revealed leaks that weren’t apparent on our earlier visits.  We’ve found that water is coming in, in several places – through roof, doors and walls.  All of this of course means extra expense, which is scary when you’ve just moved house!  There are also leaks in several outbuildings, and the roof on the cabin was threatening to lift off.  We lost a panel off the side of one of the storage buildings and several items were blown into the stream.

The winds also turned poo picking into quite an adventure!  One afternoon I lost my hat, barrow, rake and poo skip – all blown away from me.  The horses were rather spooked by the waving branches and the sound of the wind in the trees and hedges.  Dax quickly settled once he got some hay, but Rika was more uncertain.  She seemed to gain confidence, though, when I stood next to her and reassured her.  She pushed in a couple of times for a scratch and it was lovely to think that my presence put her more at ease.  Thankfully both have still been keeping warm, despite the weather.

Added to this is the fact that we still haven’t been connected to the internet and phone.  TV is also part of the package that we’ve ordered, so we don’t have that either.  This has been a big challenge in many ways and my husband is finding it particularly frustrating.  I was managing reasonably well, using WiFi in a local café as and when I could, but when hubby was away with work for the night of the storm, the sense of isolation from a lack of contact with the outside world, hubby’s frustrations and the fact that he is very unhappy that we’ve moved here, concerns about the effect of the weather on the horses and financial worries, all piled up, and I suddenly felt hopeless and just wanted to rage at the world!

This made me think about what I could do to support myself, when I felt I had run out of energy and resilience.  These were my tips to myself:

  1. Remember to breathe! A simple thing, and it might seem small and insignificant in the face of the storm, but it helps you to be more grounded, to find balance and perspective when the storm is threatening to blow you away.  Also it can be heartening to know that you are still holding on.  When you look back and see what you’ve managed to come through, it can build your confidence and awareness of your inner strength.
  2. Take one step at a time. When you’re in a ‘perfect storm’, everything seems overwhelming.  Each issue appears to be too huge to manage.  We can feel lost and uncertain of where we’re going or what the future might hold.  But keeping moving, even at the slowest pace, means that we’re taking action rather than getting stuck.  And again, we can discover an inner strength and resources we were unaware of, which is a great boost to our confidence and esteem, and contrasts against the things that seem to be knocking us down.
  3. Don’t make any big decisions. When you’re struggling, feeling lost and out of your depth, it’s not a good place from which to make important decisions.  If others are pressing you for an answer, it’s ok to say that you need some time.  You need to be able to restore your sense of balance, perspective and hope, reconnecting again with your inner sense of who you are and what matters to you – your inner compass – before you can hope to make a choice that will serve you.
  4. Spend time with those who lift you up. When you’re struggling to find anything positive or hopeful inside of yourself it can be good to spend time in the company of people, music or books that soothe and encourage us.  I’m very fortunate to have some wonderful friends to call on.  I rang one the night that my ‘perfect storm’ hit, and she immediately suggested getting together.  We’ve arranged to meet up tomorrow and having this to look forward to, I suddenly felt a little better, almost as if I was drowning and had found a rock to rest on allowing me to catch my breath and have the space to regather myself.  It’s said that we become like the 5 people we spend most of our time with, so pay attention to the people – and the energy – that you hang out with.  Are they uplifting?  Encouraging?  Supportive?  Reassuring? Optimistic?  Do they build you up?  Encourage you?  Believe in you?  Reignite your passion?
  5. Take time to rest and reflect, and be gentle with yourself. When everything seems to be yelling for your attention, it’s important to take some time out for yourself. Peace and quiet are invaluable for helping us to recharge and think about where we would like to be once the storm has passed.  For me I noticed that getting outside into the woods, or into the fields with the horses, helped me to put some distance between myself and most of the things that were stressing me.  It helped to restore my balance and sense of positivity.
    Also, don’t be too hard on yourself for being in this situation.  Life can throw us curve-balls.  Finding yourself in the middle of an emotional storm is not a poor reflection on who you are.  It’s our responses to our situation that show our true character.
  6. Take good care of yourself. In the midst of the storm, everything seems to be demanding your time and attention, leaving no time for yourself.  But this can lead to draining your batteries, leaving you exhausted and even ill.  At times like this it’s important to eat healthily – including lots of fresh, preferably organic, produce, including fruit and veg of a wide variety of colours to boost your vitamin and mineral intake – and to get as much sleep as you can.
  7. Hang in there and remember that even the worst storm passes. Suddenly something will shift, or it can be a slow and gradual change that you don’t even notice at first, but then, one morning, you look up and there’s a glimpse of sunshine poking through the dark clouds.  For me, I arrived home yesterday to find a strange car in the driveway.  When I went into the house, I found hubby talking to a lovely bloke who turned out to be, in my husband’s description, “a jack of all trades, and master of all of them”!  In short, it appears that we might have found the guy to help us put our place in shape and get us through the winter intact.  Of course, it’s going to cost money, but those financial concerns seemed to fade into the background when presented with this solution to our other worries.  Also, the fact that hubby was now in a much better mood lifted my spirits immensely!

So, what about you?  What are your tips for dealing with a ‘perfect storm’?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you ever feel like the ‘perfect storm’ is building, and you need a break away to think, take stock and recover your balance, you are very welcome to book a session here at Equenergy.  I offer Reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (‘tapping’), mindfulness through reconnection with Nature, and workshops on rediscovering that sense of ‘Flow’ in your life.  Please contact me for further information:

Or you can see more on my website:

 

 

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Giving our horses the time they need

Friday 2 November

Often, I think, our horses need us to give them more time and space than we realise.

An example of this came up just this morning.  I was poo picking in the fields and I noticed that Rika was yawning.  She seems to have been finding the transition to Wales more challenging than Dax; but then more of this has been new to her than to him, since she has also left her people, as well as her herd and her place.  I hoped that the yawns might mean she was releasing and starting to relax a little more into her new home.

I’d been spending some time scratching Dax and Rika had approached us, so I thought I would offer her some scratches too.  At first she seemed uncertain, so I stepped back to get a clearer idea of what she was trying to tell me.  I sensed that she was just a little unsure but still open, so I gently took a step forward again.  She accepted this so I continued with scratches and a bit of massage.  I heard some long, loud gut sounds and it seemed that she was relaxing a little into my touch.  I decided to offer some rebalancing of her energies along her bladder meridian.  As soon as I started her eyes began to blink, long and slow and I could see that she was working through some stuff.  I only got about half way along her neck when she walked away, putting some distance between us.  She didn’t stop until she had crossed the gateway into the next field.  She stood there for some time, just processing whatever had come up for her.

Part of me would have liked to continue encouraging her to release, and trying to build a bond with her, but I think that to have done so would actually have pushed her further away and perhaps have caused her to shut me out.  I knew that my desire to carry on in that moment was coming more from my need than from ‘Rika’s – my need to connect with her and for her to be happy here.  A part of me wanted this to happen straight away, rather than allowing ‘Rika to find this balance in her own time.  I had to remind myself that horses, like humans, need time to adjust to change.  Everything here is new to her – the place, the people, the food, the grass, the ‘herd’ – so it’s a lot to take in.  Horses can take up to a year, or even more, to fully settle into a new environment and to really feel comfortable enough to ‘be themselves’.  ‘Rika has only been here 3 weeks so I need to be patient and proceed at her pace.

In our human world we are so conditioned to expecting instant results.  So many things are at the touch of our fingertips: news, information, entertainment, even food.  I’ve been made very aware of our dependence on this due to our lack of internet access following our move, and the remoteness of our new location, which is taking us back to slower ways of being.

Horses live to a different timescale from ours.  They tend to be thoughtful beings, weighing things up and exploring them from all angles before deciding what action to take (except of course in the case of instinctive responses to potential threats).  Because of this, they are generally better at being in the present moment – with more of an awareness of the wholeness of their being – and they are less ‘in their heads’ than we tend to be.  We often want them to respond within our timescales, and with the exact movement, or whatever, that we’re asking for.  If this doesn’t happen, we ask again and again until it does, often increasing the volume or adding more energy.  How must this appear to these gentle, slower-paced animals…?  In fact, when we work with horses, it’s often a case of ‘less is more’ – the quieter and more subtle our signals, the more responsive the horse becomes.

There is much that we can learn from horses in this.  Spending time with them and sharing their energy can help us to take on that slower pace, allowing us to let go of the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives in order to find greater grounding and balance.  This has huge benefits for our wellbeing.

 

 

Saturday 3 November

This morning I went up to give the horses their hay as usual.  Dax is always the first to push in for a mouthful, whereas ‘Rika hangs back, knowing that he will move her away if she comes too close.  I dropped a few leaves from the bale in one of the feeding spots then, while Dax tucked in, I called ‘Rika to follow me to where I would place some more hay.  I left her happily munching while I put out the rest of the hay, then came back to check in with each of them, as I do every morning.  ‘Rika was nearest, so I approached her first.  Normally she adopts a very defensive stance when I come up to her when she’s eating.  On previous days she would tense, become very watchful, put her ears back and sometimes block me with her hindquarters, but today there was none of this.  Her ears stayed forward, or tuned in to me, she appeared relaxed and she even turned to say hello.  Shortly after this she approached me and accepted some gentle stroking.  This is a big change in her behaviour.  Nothing earth-shattering maybe, but she definitely appears to be a more settled and engaged horse this morning.  I believe that listening to her request for space yesterday, and allowing her to take the time she needed, has helped to build more trust and respect between us.  She is such a big-hearted girl and beautiful soul and hopefully she will find contentment here in this wonderful place with us.

 

Alice Griffin, writing in a recent edition of Horsemanship Magazine (Issue 109), about her time on a horseback tour of the Alentejo region of Portugal, says:

“In this increasingly busy world there are few places that offer a true sense of peace; where roads are empty, passersby rare and where we can truly find a way to switch off and be submerged in nature.”

She noticed that the Alentejan people are

“… often teased for their lackadaisical approach to life, but I can’t help thinking they are all the smarter for refusing to get rushed along by expectation, instead choosing to soak up every moment with deepened relish”

I too, think there is something very special about being able to slow down and reconnect – both with ourselves, and with the animals and nature all around us – and to be able to appreciate the richness and wonder of it all.

Alice goes on to say that:

“Somehow animals – unlike humans – have not lost their ability to be at one with the earth, remaining unchanged in their effortless navigation of rivers, rocks, hills and valleys despite the centuries that may have passed.”

If Portugal isn’t for you at this time, you can still experience a little of this magic of Nature and horses for yourself here in the UK.  I offer mindfulness and wellbeing sessions here at our wonderful retreat space in rural Wales, not far from Abergavenny, Wales (map) Just get in touch to find out more:

Or take a look at my website: www.equenergy.com

   

Lessons from the mist and a formal introduction

Well, we’ve been in our new home for 3 weeks now!  In some way the time has flown by and it feels like we’ve been here for much longer, and in other ways it still feels very new.

The time has flown by in a blur and at times it has felt very overwhelming.  It’s a huge change living here, compared to our old life in the suburbs of Bristol.  Suddenly having 8.5 acres of paddocks, woodland and vegetable and fruit areas feels rather out of our comfort zone!

  • How on earth do you care for all these magnificent trees and hedges?
  • How do you support Nature to do her thing while still keeping the land manageable?
  • What’s the best way to care for our little orchard?
  • What veg should we grow here – and where do we even start with that?!

As you’ll know, if you’ve been following my blog, we’ve been without WiFi since we moved in.  On one level this is quite nice, as it allows us time to focus on other things – wow, I can now see how social media has eaten my time in the past! – but it has also meant that we don’t have a working landline in the house, our mobile connection is patchy, we have no access to emails or looking things up on the internet – and we have no TV.  (Lots of DVD watching and actually having to have conversations!)

All this has left us feeling rather out of our depth.  At times I’ve felt like I’m lost and can’t see my way…

One morning I was pushing a barrow full of hay up to the field for the horses.  Dawn was just breaking and there was a mist hanging over the fields.  I could only see clearly for a few steps ahead of me.  But as I walked I realised that, as I moved forwards the path ahead of me was revealed, step by step.  I couldn’t see any further ahead than a few metres, but the fact of moving forward was meaning that those few metres were also shifting with me, allowing me to see my next few steps.  This felt a bit like my life at the moment.  It made me think that if I could just ‘go with it’, and trust the process, choosing to be content with only seeing the next few steps and not stressing about being unable to see the whole of the path, then I would feel more at ease and less out of control.

This, and spending time with the horses surrounded by the beautiful fields and woodland here, has helped me to be more grounded and to feel more balanced and settled in this new life.  I’m more able to look ahead to how I might be able to develop my practice by drawing on all the wonderful resources of this place.

In this week’s post I also wanted to introduce you to our newest addition to the family.  Her formal name is Ulrike, and previously she was known as Eureka, but we’ve shortened her name to ‘Rika.  As you might remember, I believe that names can be significant and I love the meanings that this beautiful girl’s name holds:

Ulrike – a German name meaning Mistress of All

Rika – a Norse name meaning Forever Strong

Rikka – a Teutonic name meaning Tranquil Leader

I had been hoping that this mare would be a leader for our ‘teenager’ gelding.  That hasn’t quite worked out as planned as he tends to be the one who bosses her around, but I think that her steadfast, gentle presence will still be a wonderful asset.

Next week I’ll share a little more about how things are going with her but for now I need to sign off as I need to get home before dark to feed these two!

 

 

We’re in!

I’d like to apologise for the lack of posting last week.  We moved to our new home on 12 October and have not yet been connected to the internet, so everything is being done as and when we can get WiFi or 4G when we’re out and about.

Our new home is very beautiful though it has brought many challenges.  The weather on the day of our move was wild and windy which caused some issues with coming across the bridge from Bristol to Wales.  This seems to have set the tone for the following days, too, as it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride.

The removal itself went past in a blur.  The team arrived and seemed to sweep all our belongings up and into their lorries then head off to our new location, without even pausing for breath!  We then discovered that they’d been so thorough in their sweep that they’d taken my car keys with them! This added a whole new dimension to the process.

My lovely mother and father in law had come along to help with the move but unfortunately they took a wrong turn on entering Wales and were lost for a couple of hours with no way to contact them as they don’t have mobiles.  When Tim and I finally arrived we found that the lorries had already been emptied, but everything was in the wrong place, leaving us with lots to sort out and heavy things to try and move around over the next couple of days.  It also meant that we couldn’t find anything – though this meant that we had to unpack every box which helped us to make the place feel a little more like home.

We couldn’t have done it all without the wonderful help from a couple of Tim’s friends from work.  Thank you so much guys – we owe you big time!!

The property is a cute little cottage which is very tastefully renovated, however we found that there was some… creative wiring in the house and the office which needed to be sorted as a matter of urgency.  We’ve also found that the sockets and outlets in the other outbuildings do not work which is posing some interesting challenges as the days grow shorter.  Also some of the outbuildings leak, meaning that we don’t yet have the storage area we thought we would have.

The horses were due to join us the next day, but the wind was still blowing hard and so we had to reschedule.  Originally we thought this was going to be for the following week, but thankfully we managed to move them on the Sunday and so they’ve been here for nearly 2 weeks now.  Dax seems to be loving it in this new, wild, Welsh space – we think he might be part Welsh Section D so perhaps some of his genes feel like they’ve come home – and ‘Rika is settling in well.  This involves rolling in the mud so she’s hardly recognisable now!

     Dax and ‘Rika – before the mud bath

‘Rika after her roll in the mud!

Despite the challenges, I love it here.  Walking up to see the horses every morning and evening is such a special time.  I love watching the light, which is constantly changing and subtly altering the landscape and its moods.  Also, the changing colours of the leaves at this time of year are turning the surrounding countryside a glorious golden hue.

The woods are amazing and there’s lots of wildlife.  Most of this we hear rather than see, but there’s a wonderfully cheeky robin who is a frequent visitor.

In one of the fields there is a fabulous old beech tree.  It holds an ancient, mystical energy and is a wonderful place for some mindful meditation.

I’m so looking forward to opening this space up to share its healing energy with others!

I will be inviting people to come and spend time in this peaceful place and allow it to open their hearts and bring healing.

This is an opportunity to take some time, just for yourself, to get out of your head and into your body.

To Be present…

To Feel

To get in touch with your body and emotions and see how they can show you what is working well for you, and what isn’t, so that you can make supportive changes.

It’s a chance to reconnect with the Earth beneath your feet and the Nature all around you to bring balance, harmony and wellbeing.

And Breathe…

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch, or see my website for more information:

 

 

 

Lessons from Dax

If you’ve been following my blog over the last few weeks and months, you might be wondering about how things are now with me and the amazing horse that I took on in May.  We’ve had our challenges and our ups and downs, so what has worked for us, and what hasn’t…?

Well, I can tell you that Dax is a different guy to how he was just a month or so ago.  He has really softened and relaxed which is wonderful to see.  He’s choosing to come with me when I ask him to – sometimes he needs to think about this for a second, but that’s fine by me.  I want him to engage his brain and to think about things, even if that means that it takes a little bit longer while he considers his options.

He’s recently had lots going on in his life – the dentist, the trimmer, a worming treatment and 3 of his buddies moving to another yard.  The trimmer (Caroline Andresen of Hoofing Marvellous) has been a few times now and he soon learnt that he can trust her to take good care of him and to make sure that he feels safe and comfortable at all times.

His dental appointment was the first since he had come to Bristol, so it was a new dentist and a different experience for Dax, but he was amazing.  I was so proud of him!

The loss of his 3 buddies hit him the hardest.  His special friend Belle was one of the 3 and he called for her for a day or so, obviously missing her and wondering where she’s gone and whether or not she would come back.

But Dax is a resilient fellow and he settled again, just in time for a new arrival.  We now have a young filly – a 2 year old Exmoor pony – on the yard.  She’s the cutest little thing and so independent!  She’s well able to take care of herself despite her size.  Dax has been a complete star too, and has been looking after her, which completely made my heart melt!

Looking back over all that’s been happening I’ve realised that I’ve learnt so much about myself since Dax arrived.  My relationship with him has been like a metaphor for my life…  It struck me the other day that the more I ‘resisted’ the challenging behaviours that Dax was showing, the more fear I felt, and the more fear, the more I resisted.  It became a negative cycle that wasn’t helping either of us.

The change has seemed to come in steps.  For example, one day I got the sense that Dax saw my attempts to be more assertive, and defend my space, as a game.  He wasn’t being nasty, he just wanted to play, but his play was scary to me – and because of his size, mass and strength, it could actually be potentially dangerous.  The important thing was that this realisation wiped out most of my fear and gave me a very different perspective.  I began to be able to respond with humour – or at least to be able to laugh at myself, and sometimes with Dax, rather than getting scared and anxious and only adding to the tension.

In the last week Dax has started to use his lips to nuzzle, rather than going straight in with his teeth.  I felt that he wanted to offer some mutual grooming – he loves a good scratch (as you can see in the video above) and I felt that he wanted to connect by offering something in return – however I was too nervous of those big teeth of his to let him try.He might always be a horse who likes to explore things with his mouth, and he might never be good with hand-held treats (he gets over excited and can become nippy and pushy) but he his now starting to offer a more gentle connection and engagement which is really helping me to relax more around him.  This in turn helps me to breathe more easily, rewarding him with softness and calmness and encouraging him to respond in the same way – a much more positive cycle.

Dax has taught me that I should have trusted my gut from the beginning and just listened to him and to my own sense of what was right for me.  This relationship is between the 2 of us.  Another horse, or another person, would bring a different response and what has worked for us might not work with that combination.

I would just like to encourage everyone reading this to really listen to your own inner wisdom.  Do what feels best to you, in your situation, with your set of circumstances.

If you’re struggling to do this, don’t worry.  It’s very easy to get out of touch with our own intuition and inner guidance, but there are simple steps you can take to reconnect:

  • One very powerful tool is mindfulness – taking some time every day to be fully present with whatever you’re doing.  You can practise this while doing simple daily tasks such as cooking, eating or brushing your teeth.  You can also take a familiar object and explore it with new eyes – and indeed all your senses.  Try to avoid any labels or judgements and just focus on what you can see, feel, smell, hear and even taste.
  • Another way to reconnect with your inner wisdom is by journaling.  This was something I thought I’d never be able to do but I surprised myself by how easily the words flowed when I made a start!  It gave me so much insight into my thought processes and the feelings behind them.  It also helped me to observe patterns in my behaviour and to see where these were supporting me – or not!

If you feel that you would like some support in reconnecting to your inner self, I offer workshops on how to Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow.  I will also be offering Mindfulness sessions at our new premises in Wales where you can spend time tuning in to the peacefulness of the surrounding woodland and / or sit with the horses.  If you’d like to know more, please contact me:

www.equenergy.com 

robyn@equenergy.com 

07980 669303

So many questions…

Last week I looked again at some important questions that this journey with Dax has raised recently and the answers that I have found so far.

This whole process has been a very interesting one for me.  It has caused me to question so many things – myself, my approach, my abilities and my beliefs.  This has led me to also ponder the various opinions offered to me.  Most of them have come from people that I respect, and yet their views have sometimes conflicted with each other, and sometimes with the views that I have held up to now.

This has meant that I’ve had to re-evaluate much of the information that I’ve been receiving – either from people or from books and articles that I’ve read.  I’ve tried to search for the things that resonate and feel ‘true’ to me, but found this hard when I’m no longer sure exactly where I stand.  Things have felt fluid and uncertain.

I’ve had to face up to these uncertainties, and my own loss of confidence.  Suddenly all the things that I thought I knew, all that I’ve studied and learnt, seemed to just fall away leaving me feeling empty and lost.

But I’ve come to realise that maybe I was looking for ‘truth’ and ‘certainty’ where there isn’t any… It’s perhaps a case of setting an intention (to do the best for Dax), creating dialogue with him and seeing where we can go, this boy and I.

  • Do we have a journey together?
  • Are we strong enough and brave enough to take the first steps and see where they lead us and if we feel some good potential there?
  • Can we trust each other to be open and hold space for the other, especially when fears come up and behaviours might reflect this?
  • Are we courageous and trusting enough to face the learnings, and to keep going when things get tough?

Given time, and space, I think we might be able to do it… but these two were feeling in very short supply in my world! I felt sleep deprived and overstretched…

Yes, this horse asks for so much – but I also see that what he is bringing up in me is my own inner ‘ask’ too…

It has all felt too much sometimes.  Occasionally I’ve felt so overwhelmed that I’ve wanted to press rewind and go back to the time before we sold our houses and I started this whole crazy plan!  But I can’t – practically, or emotionally – I’ve opened Pandora’s Box, for better or worse! I still don’t quite know where it will lead, and at times I’ve felt blind and lost, but something still feels ‘right’ – like this is a process that I need to go through… I manifested this… even if at times it has felt like a ‘kill or cure’!

The process has felt like a very lonely one at times.  It was as if Dax was the only other being in our little life-raft, the two of us being tossed around together.  There may have been others around – some offering great support without which I would have been very tempted to give up – but really, it was just the two of us, waiting to see if we would survive, or if we would decide to abandon ship and go our separate ways…

I talked before about facing our inner shadow.  This process brought me face to face with some deep seated fears:

  • that this is too big an ask for my wonderful husband, who doesn’t really want to move and who fears for my safety around this large, sometimes unpredictable, animal
  • that I’m being watched, judged and found wanting
  • that I am failing Dax

These fears might all be ‘just in my head’ but it doesn’t make them feel any less real!

I’ve said before that Dax’s moods are an enigma – and yet in a way they’re not.  When I think about his history, I can so get why he might suddenly seem to switch…

  • being taken from his mother
  • being left to starve
  • being passed from one person to another as a youngster, then again moving away from his home to come live with me

He has such deep wounds held within, and sometimes we can find these impossible to express without them exploding into a ‘beast’ that feels out of our control… such deep pain with no outlet… not a wonder his moods swing… not a wonder that he can appear to be struggling, ‘unpredictable’ and ‘grumpy’…

But then I wonder if I’m making assumptions about how he’s feeling, which actually are way off…

I’ve offered him various ‘releasing’ techniques – such as Reiki, massage, TTouch and essential oils – but it seems that he is not ready to go there yet.  He will start to show signs of relaxing and then it’s as if he pulls himself back.  So we’re taking it ‘slow and steady’, just doing little bits as and when he seems able and happy to engage.

I’m also trying to keep things light and to remember the value of fun and humour.  Dax is an intelligent horse with an inquisitive side so he needs to find expression for this too.

There have been shifts in his behaviour.  For example he used to get defensive if you stood at his shoulder, or tried to touch him here, turning to nip, but I haven’t seen this behaviour in a long time now.

Part of what has helped us is me going ‘back to basics’ and remembering to just enjoy being with him, with no agenda or expectations, and no pressure – on him or myself.  With animals, particularly horses, this apparently ‘overly simple’ strategy is often overlooked.  As humans we often see things as Big Complex Problems needing Big Complex Solutions, when sometimes what we need to do is just strip everything back and go for the simplest approach.  In our busy, noisy lives, it can be a real challenge to just Be and to en-joy the moment.  But it is in doing this that we unlock the potential of that moment and gain access to our intuition, our insight and to deeper listening, connection and understanding.

I want to be able to see Dax’s many good qualities, not just the less desirable behaviours.  In doing this, I hope to be able to create a space where he is set up to succeed, rather than to fail – to find his balance and contentment and to let go of his fears.  I hope, too, that he will see me as a consistent carer who will accept him in all his moods and always look for the good in him, behind any behaviours, while also supporting him to let go of the fears that create those behaviours.

 

If any of this is resonating with you and you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below or to contact me.

Might he be in pain?

So last week I mentioned that I was concerned that Dax’s recent behaviour could possibly have been triggered by pain.  I therefore booked him in for a session with Helen Jacks-Hewett the McTimoney and Sports Massage therapist.  She came out to the yard on 27 July and gave Dax a thorough examination.

We also had a fun time speculating on his heritage!  Helen thought that his eyes looked quite Appaloosa as there is some white visible around his iris, as you can just about see in this photo:

She wondered if he might actually develop some spots as he grows older!  She also thought that his temperament could indicate some Welsh Section D.

Regarding her assessment she wrote in her report:

No misalignments located in spine or pelvic joints, and no areas of muscle asymmetry or soreness noted so on the whole there doesn’t appear to be any significant underlying musculoskeletal problems. His poll was a little tight predominantly on the left side, it is possible his tendency to head twirl may cause this tension, or his general underlying level of anxiety.

Small areas of scar tissue from previous/old injuries noted in the right ascending pectoral and the right gracilis muscles which may indicate he has had some prior trauma.

Baited core activation ‘carrot stretches’ will help to strengthen his core muscles

She then went on to say:

His behaviour seems typical for a hand raised foal, and shows a lot of foal like tendencies even though he is 6 years old.

There is a really sweet natured clever horse in there who will hopefully continue to learn and develop given the right herd conditions and handling techniques.

It was such good news to hear that he doesn’t appear to have any areas of pain and that, overall, his conformation is pretty good.  Also, I now have Helen’s suggestions on things that I can do to improve his core strength and balance, which hopefully will make him more comfortable in himself.  We’ve now been practising carrot stretches, particularly the low ones, and turning him in small circles.  He’s a clever boy and has picked this up quickly.  The only issue is that, as Helen mentioned, he is rather foal-like in some of his behaviours and shows traits common to horses that have been hand reared – in this case, getting over excited when offered food by hand and becoming ‘snatchy’.  He’s getting better though, as he’s learning that he always gets his reward!

Another area that needed work, and where I was hoping Helen’s suggestions would help, was in having his feet handled.  In fact it was our wonderful trimmer Caroline Andresen of Hoofing Marvellous who first suggested Helen, when she noticed that there is a slight twist to Dax’s lower right foreleg, and thought that this might be why he is reluctant to lift his front feet.

I’m sure that building his core strength and stability will make him more comfortable when having to stand on just 3 feet to have his hooves picked or trimmed and also I want to help him realise that he is safe to give us a foot for attention.  My lovely, supportive husband has been helping me with this, holding Dax, reassuring him and rewarding him when he allows us to gently lift a foot.

Caroline noticed a big difference in her most recent trim, compared to the previous one.  Dax was much more chilled!  We could also see how his feet are changing since his move to Bristol.  I find it fascinating how you can see so much in a horse’s foot!  It sort of gives you a wellbeing history for the previous 9-12 months.  In the last trim, Dax’s feet were brittle – a reflection of whatever was happening towards the end of last year.  Pieces were breaking off again this time, which shows how his feet are responding to the stresses placed on them by his weight and movement.  There is some flaring, which is a further indicator of this, and of what’s going on inside his hoof capsule.  (You can read more about hoof health in my earlier post and in this article from my website.)

So that was step one in supporting Dax to be a happier and more balanced horse, but what about the other questions I was facing?

More about that next week!