It was an experience of my own that first showed me the mirroring horses do with us. I wasn’t aware that all my learnings up to this point and to present day would turn out to be my life’s path. I am glad I was always the one asking ‘why’ ‘why is the horse bucking, running off, rearing, wont be caught’ etc… Nobody ever came back with a satisfying answer…it was always…’its bonkers’…’it needs someone more experienced’ ‘needs more work’ Im sure you have heard these sayings and more too. These responses were never enough for me to accept…who was ever talking about the guardian, the rider, the stable hand…what where they communicating sub consciously to the horse? Was the horses behaviour a reflection of the handler? I spent years trying to find these answers, the answer would come from my own experience….
After the death of my mother and an attack from a patient at work I was signed off sick and I was given the label PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) I was 30 years old. Stress had been building up for quite some time with work, homelife and relationships. It wasn’t until I was pretty much ready to give up on life that I knew I had to accept help via medication and counselling. Due to the medication being highly addictive and being known for being difficult to ‘get off’ it wasn’t long before I felt my mood lift enough for me to start weening myself off them. The counselling seemed to send me into a frenzy it seemed a complete waste of time and instead of leaving consultations feeling lighter and relaxed I was leaving with anger and more stress!..
The horses were my driving force, I had to get up in a morning, I had to take care of them no matter how I was feeling…I threw myself even more into learning about horses…hosting workshops, organising demonstrations, concentrating on my riding, teaching, attending courses and a trip to Monty Roberts place thrown in….all this allowed me to push all my problems aside put on a front and cart on with life….It was a few years later, after the death of my dad that the ‘shit hit the fan’.. I was on the slippery slope downhill. Everything that I had pushed aside and more surfaced.
My horse Ellie changed my life…..
Her behaviour was becoming challenging. Always level headed not much phased her and a ‘go with the flow’ kind of horse. Unusually she had started rearing at me whilst I was leading her, and I was having to dodge her front feet that where hovering over me. At first I just put it down to her being a mare having an off day and then her behaviour would change again. This time she wouldn’t move, her head would be touching the ground and her expression was like ‘lights are on but nobodies home’…
It soon became apparent that she only displayed these behaviours with me. Having asked several different people to lead her she never did it with anyone else. ‘What was going on’? I asked myself whilst blanking out the comments like ‘that horse is bonkers,’ ‘it needs work,’ ‘its too much for you that horse, sell it’…Perhaps she was all of these a horse with lots of potential 16.1h in height and only just getting going in her education, maybe I wasn’t experienced enough?…I was beginning to doubt my abilities. Her unpredictable behaviour continued with me and then one day it finally happened….. Rope and headcollar in hand I headed off with a friend to bring the horses in. I took hold of Ellie and proceeded to leave the field. I felt a dead weight on the end of the line and looked to see her head touching the floor almost buckling front legs and the same ‘lights are on but nobodies home’ expression. Out of the blue and in a joking way my friend said’ that horse looks depressed’ ‘ Yeh she does’ I said with a chuckle and then….Boom…it hit me like a ton of bricks….., sodding hell I thought…she’s not depressed… I Am…….Ellie’s behaviour showed me the highs and lows of my illness totally mirroring my emotions….. I had to get myself right…. I needed help, but this time I was advised to try hypnotherapy… I wasn’t convinced but I agreed…. There is something quite spiritual with the work of a hypnotherapist…. that’s what I found and due to a miraculous and quick recovery I felt different to how I’d ever felt before….and no meds…This spiritual interest was popping up again and so I joined a spiritual development group. I started my Reiki training and then I was guided to learn about self hypnosis.This inspired me to train as a hypnotherapist.
Ellie returned to her normal self and what she taught me that day has helped me to see things differently when it comes to horse/human relationships…
Its ok to have shitty days…there is so much to learn about ourselves on these days…
I do believe things happen for a reason…
Sometime back in early 2001/2 I was heading over to Oregan USA to join a clicker training camp hosted by Alexandra Kurland. My friend I was travelling with handed me a book she was reading and suggested I read a particular page. It was a book that I would come to fully read some years later but at the time..it was a bit over my head. The passage talked about how horses mirror us and in particular how certain aspects of our personalities can often be seen in our horses. I was thinking about my horses, I had three at the time and it was a definite light bulb moment. I recognised right away the characteristics of myself in each of my horses. Ellie whom is still with me today was definitely my serious side. Jasper whom sadly we lost in 2011 was my defensive side and little Minnie whom we lost in 2014 was my cheeky child side. Off course with that came their own individual characters but for me this was quite a revelation…..I was already connecting with this notion whilst working with people and their horses it was the mirror effect!!! and I had experienced this first hand during a time in my life when my illness was mirrored to me by Ellie….however, It would be a few years later that I would fully understand, the actual work I was doing with animal/ human relationships.
People want information about their animal companion for all kinds of reasons. The thought of the animal divulging inner secrets about personal traumas or past experiences can very often have people running for the door. We all have a past and for some of us not as rosy as others but with our animals we get a chance to release the things that hold us back.’ Putting on a front ‘ is easy to do with people…I know I did it for long enough…but with animals its not so easy. Animals see us differently to people they see beyond our physical being, they connect with our inner selves..our truth. Very often people will say ‘I dealt with that situation years ago’ and yet it is the thing the horse brings forward to help us heal. I agree that we do put negative experiences away and believe their forgotten, but its the emotions that keep surfacing. This is the part the animal wants to help us heal.
A lady asked me to have a chat with her horse, she wanted to know ‘ if her horse was happy’ as she explained that their relationship had often been quite ‘challenging’. I always keep an open mind never knowing what might come forward. There is always enlightenment and a therapeutic benefit to these communications but what was to unfold, nothing could have prepared me for…..The horse was grazing with his field companions as I slowly approached and introduced myself. Its funny because I am always sure that they are expecting me. I was greeted with a sniff followed by a full investigation of my boots, hat, hands and body, content with his findings he continued to pick at the grass. I asked my usual initial questions and waited. I was drawn to place my head against his neck and my hands on his heart chakra…again I waited…there were no words but an image, an image of a black never ending tunnel I looked down into this it was empty. And then came a saddness so deep in this tunnel it was so far down it was impossible to touch…it seemed unreachable.
This was something I had never experienced before and I had to quickly stop myself from questioning what I was being given. I remained in the focus of this image and the emotions that I was feeling… and then…. out of the blue it came…’Im feeling grief’ I said to myself ‘but whose grief’? with that the horse lifted his head and I knew this was the guardian’s grief. I turned to the lady and asked if she was’ grieving ‘? at the same time I was given a childs image I asked ‘if she had lost a child’? she replied yes…’not a baby’ I said ‘but a young male of around 6 years old’? yes she replied and told me his exact age and how he had sadly passed over….Her horse was carrying this and I believe in an attempt to lesson her suffering…her horse was trying to heal her.
Nothing in life could ever prepare a mother from losing a child I don’t think any of us could ever begin to imagine what this lady went through….
Having horses in our lives brings us so many gifts…. including the gifts of strength, courage and freedom.
My studies in equine assisted growth and learning taught me a lot about the work I was doing. However, I don’t believe that equine assisted therapies is exclusive to people from deprived backgrounds or people that have been labelled with an illness. The therapeutic work that horses do naturally is happening in every stable yard, field or arena with everyone that interacts with them ….
One of the first things people want to know is whether their animal is happy. After I had completed my Equine Reiki course I soon starting receiving emails from people that wanted insights about their animal companions. Cats, dogs and horses and I was feeling confident enough to do a communication using a photo. Reiki and animal communication teaches you about connecting with a person or animal distantly, opening up a channel to send healing or to communicate directly. To be honest I was sceptical of this at first until I sent healing to a person distantly and received positive feedback. Whilst being at home prepared and focus on sending healing I would get feelings of physical or emotional pain which I knew was not mine. It would be after, during conversation with the person that it would be confirmed that what I had felt was theirs.
During my training in animal communication we would be given the challenge of communicating with animals that had passed over, using a photograph. It always felt emotional to have your readings confirmed by the animals guardian.
I was working via email asking animals all kinds of questions set out by their guardians. It wasn’t long before I could see a pattern begin to emerge. This pattern would have great impact on the guardians themselves.
I had been asked to connect with a dog that had unusually started becoming aggressive with other dogs, the dog had also shown some aggressive behaviour with the guardian. Having had the dog since a puppy and the dog now around 6 years old the guardian was confused and concerned about the sudden change of character. During my connections with the dog I was given the sense of anger and anxieties but the dog would keep guiding me back to the guardian. I sensed the dog was eager to release these feelings as I too felt this was completely out of character for him. It felt as though the dog was pressing me to talk with the guardian. I would relay all the answers to the questions given to me by the guardian, the only answer I could not give was why her dog had suddenly become aggressive. The answer to this would come from the guardian.
After these communications there is much reflection which often leads to insight and understanding on the part of the guardian. In this case the owner’s reflections revealed how her home life and work had created emotional turmoil in herself. Extra work load was making her feel exhausted and she was angry that the added pressure was building up. Feeling unsupported she was becoming more and more stressed and lacking the usual patience she would have for her work colleagues. Returning home in the evening she stated that she would be frustrated and tearful which she felt was impacting on her partner and causing rifts in the relationship. ‘Could my dog be picking up on me’? she would ask…’Oh my god’ she said ‘the dog is acting exactly like I’m feeling’…..a light bulb moment with an out pour of emotions….and the question again ‘ is my dog picking up on me’ ?…..to which I replied ‘did the dogs behaviour change around the time things started to change for you’?
After a silence the answer came….yes!!!…
Animals are wonderful healers I am finding this to be true over and over and what they do to try and help us never ceases to amaze me. No-one could have reached this woman and told her that she was stressed out, ratty with everyone and not very nice to be around. Only her dog could do that… and only because it was her dog did she feel she had to take back control of her life and get back to being the person she was before the stress. In her own words ‘ This is not fair on my dog I need to sort my life out’
It’s amazing the impact animals have on us.
As part of my development I had joined a spiritual group that discussed and worked on different aspects of spirituality. One week we would be trying to see auras the next we would be trying to channel spirits. I found this group interesting and I learned a lot about how to connect and channel different energies. I had given a talk on the work I was doing with animals and I talked about how communicating with animals is available to us all.
A lady rang me a couple of days later and asked if I could speak with her dog!!!….Oh ‘crap’ I thought and actually said to the women ‘I don’t really work with dogs I work with horses’… it fell on deaf ears as she was so desperate to find out why her dog had suddenly changed in his behaviour. He was a loyal pet,12 years old and they had him from around the age of 3 years. They adopted him from the local dog shelter. The lady explained that her dog had suddenly starting destroying things in the house and that it was so out of character for him. He had a routine, he was walked first thing in the morning again at lunchtime as her husband would come home from work specifically to walk him and again when they both returned from work in the evening. Never had they had a problem with him chewing and destroying things in the house….. ‘Ok’ I said ‘I will see what I can do, but I don’t usually do dogs, horses are more my thing but I will see if I get anything’.
I was driving down to the house thinking this was gonna be a complete waste of time, but they didn’t live too far away so that was a bonus.
I was greeted by a gorgeous black cross labrador and strangely I knew he was expecting me. I was invited into the house and was made comfortable on the settee in the lounge. The dog came and sat by my side as the lady proceeded to fill me in on how his behaviour had changed. He was destroying bedding, pulling things out of the bin, chewing shoes pretty much anything he could, according to his owner. The lady was anxious about this because he had never done anything like this before and she wanted to know why all of a sudden he was doing this.
The dog was looking at me throughout the owners interactions he knew why I was there and he was sure gonna make sure he got his message across. With that he got up and was indicating to me to go into the kitchen area with him. I followed him, his energy changed into anxiously excited and then he indicated to the back door. It really did feel like a child was pulling me by the hand keen to show me something they where excited by. I was then guided outside and the dog took me to the back garden gate. There he stopped looked at me and in my mind I received a complete description of what had happened.
I indicated to the owner that we should go back inside and I would explain what had just happened. Once again the dog came and sat by my side. The image I had received was that of a man that had climbed over the back gate and tried to break into their house. he had tried the back door (which was the kitchen door) and each of the back windows) The dog had been terrified by this and since this event he had been trying to tell his owners of what he had witnessed. Only by him being destructive could he hope that they would realise something was wrong. He was right … his behaviour did exactly that but it had left him with some fear. He feared that the person would come back and it wasn’t to just break in and steal valuable items… it was actually to steal him!. The owner was quite surprised by this but did not show the reaction I would have expected, especially finding out someone had tried to break into her house. The lady proceeded to ask what she should do to ease the fear for her dog…I told her the dog was relieved now that she was aware of what had happened but he would prefer that they shut the curtains downstairs when they where out. He had a fear of shadows to which he showed me a picture of when he was a puppy. Locked in a room with a glass door he would often see a persons image pass the glass door and this person made him afraid. The owner agreed to do that for him and then she began to tell me what her neighbour had told her 2 weeks previous to my visit.
Her neighbour approached her one evening on her return from work and told her that she had seen a man jump over her backyard gate and disappear into the garden. Quite soon after the neighbour saw the man jump back over the gate and run off!! I asked if this destructive behaviour of her dogs had started around this time she answered …..yes….
I had missed the manager at the centre that day that I wanted to speak to her about the attitude of her staff. It would be a week later when I finally got to chat to her about my findings with the horses and my concerns about the people that were caring for these horses…She was quite taken back by my interactions with Grace and clearly quite upset. After a moment of contemplating she asked what I would suggest would help Grace to overcome this. My honest answer was I didn’t really know but I replied ‘you could start by not having her on a fixed tie’ if she did react the tie would simply extend instead of clamping her down. With this she would have more freedom of movement and possibly not feel as panicked by the restriction of the tied rope. She agreed that she would instruct Grace’s carer to do this. I then began to explain my findings with Bobby, she began to look through his paperwork to find information about his guardian. It didn’t specify the ill health of Bobby’s guardian but I could see she was concerned about the future of this horse. Again she asked my advice and I said that he needed to go out, he needed to have freedom to roam in the field. Her response took me a little by surprise ‘He’s a thoroughbred and its too cold for him to be out’ she stated….I replied with ‘ put a rug on him!, being out is beneficial to his mental health’….I told her how I had found the attitude of some of the staff, I stated that in my opinion the carers were not taking the information seriously and I felt there attitudes where quite… ‘oh well whatever’ …… ‘I have had Reiki sessions’ she proceeded to tell me ‘ I was surprised by the positive effects it had on me, so I believe what you tell me, thats why I was happy to have you come and do your case studies’. I told her I was concerned that the horses were opening up to me and that their stories were not being taken seriously. She assured me that she would instruct her staff to act on the information I had given her…
I worked on at least 10 horses at the centre all had a story to tell and all reacted well to the Reiki. You can never determine where the healing will go..it goes where its most needed. I was and am eternally grateful to the horses that taught me so much about the importance of just being, opening my heart to listen, trusting and having faith and having the confidence to stand by my gut instinct.
Bobby was turned out in the field, they found him a rug, he did what horses do, he grazed, he ran and he found his place within the temporary herd he was placed with….whilst he was out he was just like any other horse…I don’t know what happened to Grace or the others I worked with…I can only hope they found homes. I stopped going to the centre shortly after because the manager was replaced and I felt my work there was done.
It wasn’t long though before I realised I still had lots more work to do if I wanted to continue on the journey of Reiki and animal communication.
‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest’ – what a great film. Having worked in mental health human psychology has always been an interest. So I found it quite fitting that I would hear the words several times ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’….it was exactly what would draw me to Bobby.
Bobby was a 14 year old ex-racer with some good winnings to his name, he was donated to the centre due to his guardians ill health…The stabling area was a large indoor building with stables running down either side and a large concrete standing area in the middle. Bobby was at the far end pretty much out of site.
Visitors would come to the centre looking for adoptions, to offer help and donations, to browse or bring children for a day out petting the ponies and horses….It was quite late in the afternoon when I was guided to see Bobby so all was quiet. I approached his stable and was greeted with a stunning dark bay horse. He was an athlete…every muscle in his body told the story of his career, but he was crib biting ( this involves a horse grasping a solid object such as the stall door or fence rail with its incisor teeth, then arching its neck, and contracting the lower neck muscles to retract the larynx. This coincides with an in-rush of air into the oesophagus producing the characteristic cribbing grunt. Usually, air is not swallowed but returns to the pharynx. wikipedia definition ).
I stood and watched him repeat this and I heard the words ‘my fault, blame myself’….and with that he quickly moved around his stable stopped in each corner, looked behind stared at something, something I could not see and repeat into the next corner, before returning to the door and cribbing again…I was stunned by this behaviour. I asked him what he meant by ‘my fault, blame myself’ and I wasn’t prepared for what I got back…most horses show some kind of ill treatment, loss of horse companion or pain. I was given a disturbing picture and the only way that I could explain this is to liken it to a human suffering with a mental illness. Someone pacing up and down distressed talking to themselves and totally oblivious to anything or anyone around them. If you have ever watched the film ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ that’s what I am talking about. It made complete sense to me now why I heard the title of that film because Bobby was suffering a similar fate. Working in mental health had exposed me to this kind of behaviour in people but I had never seen it this extreme in a horse.
I was emotional and at the same time thinking how on earth can this horse be helped..saved. If you have ever experienced a set back in life and suffered emotionally (actually I think most of us have) then you too would understand how difficult it can be to come back from this kind of illness. This wonderfully talented horse appeared to have succumbed to a similar fate we see time and time again with famous people. Was he having a breakdown? can horses have a breakdown?… I had to regain focus, Bobby had called me to him for a reason and I was sure it wasn’t to just show me this. I was stumbling around in my mind searching for the right questions and almost as if he had put the question there himself.. out it came.. ‘had your guardian forgotten to feed you??…bizarre right?….what sort of a frigging question was that?… he wasnt under nourished he was suffering mentally and I throw out a question about food??
He looked at me intently and it stopped me in my thought process……with that came my next thought, could it be that his guardian was suffering with Alzheimers/Dementia? and with that thought I was overcome with intense love, I knew it was the love Bobby felt for his guardian. With that he returned to his corners in his box stopped looked behind and stared at something only he could see. I channelled healing and asked the powers that be to cloak him in a bubble of healing energy.
As I sat outside his stable writing my notes I couldn’t help but wonder whether Bobby was somehow trying to heal his guardian..could he have taken on his guardians illness to try to heal him?…I was sure that was a lot of it and poor Bobby was confused, separated in a strange place and totally misunderstood…I thanked him (as I do with all the horses I work with) for the visions and I went to find his carer.
I asked his carer what she knew about Bobby her reply ‘not very much’ she then stated ‘ I don’t have a lot of time for him, he is difficult to do anything with because of his vices’…what was I hearing? This poor horse had be taken away from all he knew and put in a stable where only his basic needs where met because his carer couldn’t be bothered!!!…I bet he felt like he was in prison his only crime being his guardian was too ill to look after him……..You cannot confine an athlete 24/7 and not expect him/she to feel stressed!!!!
Imagine me saying to someone about a mental health patient…’sorry I know I work in this field but i cant really be bothered with so and so because he/she has shut down and is making it hard work for me to communicate with or help them in any way..???….compassion and empathy do not require us to physically be doing something!!…If her body language and energies where telling Bobby she ‘cant be bothered with him’ how would he ever get better. I was so annoyed with her attitude I needed someone to listen and understand what I was relaying.
I totally get it, that it can seem a little weird for some people communicating with animals but these horses had trusted and confided in me, it was up to me to give this information, so that the people who where caring for them had a better understanding to which they could work with. Who cares whether that understanding comes from a physio a behaviourist or a communicator its all for the benefit of the horse…..Is that not why people choose to work in a facility like that to care, understand, love and rehabilitate??
It was time for a chat with the Manager.
Animal Communication? well we know for sure animals communicate through energies and body language but telepathically?… I don’t know about you but I have always talked to animals as if I was talking to a friend or sometimes a child. I’m sure most of us can recall a time when we have done the ‘ah come here tell your mum what you’ve done’ speech…and I’m not talking about with a child….yes I mean with an animal!!!…your amongst friends here its ok to admit it … Talking to animals telepathically and receiving messages back is something I find even the sceptics a little intrigued by. I have never doubted animal communicators and have always been intrigued to find out whether it is something that is accessible to us all ….
As I mentioned in an earlier post part of my equine reiki course was learning to communicate telepathically…bonus. … I couldn’t wait to start…but what I was expecting was not what I thought. So here it is…I ask the animal a question and the animal answers back, simple yes??….well…..actually no… it doesn’t quite work like that……I heard people saying ‘you have got to tune into the animals frequency’….hmmm really how do I do that then? ‘you must quieten the mind’ yeah really when there’s so many distractions and the horse has just stood of my foot!!!….To quieten the mind takes effort there’s always some intrusion of thought that wants to spoil it….you can be sat nice and quiet with your horse concentrating on keeping the mind free of thoughts and waiting to receive something, anything and after what seems like a life time of waiting your awareness kicks in and you say to yourself ‘ why the frigg am I thinking about so and so??…end of quietening the mind…. Learning to be a human being rather than a human doing can be challenging to some of us. Stilling the mind and body is essential to tapping into the frequency of animals, we have to stop trying so much and just allow, this has been a great personal challenge of mine as I can be inpatient and could have easily got frustrated if I felt something wasn’t working out or I was unsure of what I was doing. I had practised Reiki on lots of people and animals before I heard anything…and it wasn’t from an animal it was from my clients spirit relative…. I didn’t want to talk to people’s passed relatives I wanted to talk to the animals!!!….And there was my lesson….I had no expectations or desires to connect with passed spirits….no wonder they where connecting with me…. I wasn’t getting in the way…perhaps my desires to talk with animals was getting in the way and that’s why I didn’t receive?…. Of course that was true, certainly for me anyway… I had to learn to let go expect nothing, trust and allow with an open mind and heart.
The chestnut mare I was working with at the centre eventually allowed me to place my hands on her body, she was ready to accept healing. Grace was her name and she was a lovely mare I sensed she was like two different horses… the one she was showing was calm but I felt she could be quite unpredictable and aggressive towards her guardians. I relayed the information to the staff at the centre they told me that when she first arrived she was quite dangerous…she was known to lash out and it was dicing with death entering her stable…. Phew thank god I’d listen to my instincts and waited for the invitation into her space. Grace really did seem to benefit from the Reiki her body began to appear more relaxed, her mind calmer and her true character was starting to come alive… The sadness that I was first met with was lifting, instead of keeping herself faced to the back of her stable she was now standing at her stable door watching with interest the comings and goings in her stable block. I was finishing my work with her one particular day and as I was approaching her door to leave the stable I could feel her watching me… I had my back to her but I could feel her. An image past through me like a bolt of lightening which made me freeze on the spot. Grace gave me an image of her being tied I could see another horse a grey and it seemed like chaos. I could see Grace dancing on all fours I sensed fear. I remember seeing a man quite large he had grey pants on and a dirty white t-shirt. When I say large he was the shape that doesn’t hold pants very well … these grey pants would never have fastened around his belly and so were pretty much falling round his jacksy!!…the next thing he poked Grace with something metal I couldn’t make out what as I had never seen one before…it was like a rod. Grace’s reaction made her jump off all fours, rear and break the tie.
I turned to Grace walked over and thanked her for her image, I told her that i would tell her carers and that now with understanding they could make allowances….As I was telling the staff deep in my mind I heard the words cattle prod…I have never seen one even to this day but I know in my heart that it was that, that poor Grace had been prodded with. The reaction of her carer was not what I expected…she didn’t believe it even though she knew nothing of Grace’s background apart from abuse and neglect. Her words to me were ‘no way, there is no way that happened’?? I turned to look at Grace and I apologised. Grace turned and placed her head to the back of the stable.
It was the attitude of the staff in Grace’s case and the next one which left me with no alternative than to stop going…..
As I was sat writing my notes up on the floor outside Graces stable I heard very clearly in my mind ‘one flew over the cuckoos nest’ I looked around and at the end of the block the only horse with his head over the door was looking at me. His name was Bobby and he wasn’t one of the horses Id been given to work with….. but I did…