"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music"🐎⚡Some food for thought:
ℹAll these pictures were taken during healing/training sessions with abused horses (from short term abuse to actually being traumatized) and all of them showed different responses.
I've been working with horses literally all my life, professionally for about 15 years with experience in European countries and the United States. Still I am told by others trainers, instructors or owners that all(!!) of these horses are;
❌showing "bad horse behavior"
❌getting away with stuff
❌spoiled and need to be taught a lesson
Even the bigger, tougher men in the industry have often told me to "Stick to dolls and ponies and leave the real work to the cowboys"... who eventually got bucked off or worse and made the horse even more traumatized. It's terrible to witness when there's simply nothing you can do but leave that place and those people behind and team up with others who do share your beliefs.
After graduating from my IET Intermediate and -later- Pets, I finally felt like I now had all the tools to not only help heal the horses, I can now also explain better why they sometimes act like they do.
Why horses needs things like;
⚡letting go of their trauma, what's preventing them from moving forward
⚡finding their buried feelings of freedom and safety
⚡exploring those feelings of freedom and safety
⚡reconnecting with humans, our tools and training
And we need to be able to physically and emotionally give them that space. The Spirit of a Horse is a powerful one, so it makes sense that when they are out of balance it tends to get a bit chaotic. So embrace that chaos! Embrace the eruption, the dance that we call "Life" and just witness this transformation in authenticity and with patience. Be with them, but don't hold them back. Show them that with you, the horse can feel so safe, so authentic and so at home that with you he can let his guard down.
Authenticity at work 💖🐎
We zijn er vast allemaal wel schuldig aan: het vermenselijken van paardengedrag. Hoe werkt dit precies, waarom doen we dit en waarom is dit negatief?
1️⃣ Met vermenselijken wordt bedoeld dat we de uiting van bepaalde emoties van het paard verkeerd opvatten. Denk aan het (preventief) opleggen van dekens zodra de herfst is doorgekomen want "hij heeft het koud", terwijl (de meeste, gezonde) paarden zichzelf prima kunnen weren tegen de kou door middel van thermoregulatie; de haren van de (winter)vacht gaan overeind staan en houden op deze manier een laag warmte vast.
2️⃣ Dit vermenselijken doen we niet expres, het is een automatisme waarin we ongemak/disbalans herkennen en willen verhelpen. Nog een reden waarom goede intenties alleen niet genoeg zijn: we hebben ook regels nodig en morelen, richtlijnen gebaseerd op Waarom we iets doen en minder gefocust op Hoe we het doen.
3️⃣ Vaak denkt men dat vermenselijken geen kwaad kan, we denken immers dat we een paard helpen en voor ze zorgen. Het grote gevaar hier is, is dat het na verloop van tijd een gewoonte wordt. Het verkeerd opvatten van en omgaan met paardengedrag kan snel gevaarlijk worden: voor je het weet slaat het om en sta je met je handen in het haar omdat je paard "ineens" bijt, bokt, steigert, wegrent, etc. Dit gedrag komt heel zelden echt uit het niets, meestal is het een opeenstapeling van opgekropte emoties wat er toch een keer uit zal moeten, in de vorm van sprintjes trekken, bokken. En ook dat is 100% normaal!! Paarden zijn grote dieren, die -in vergelijking met bijvoorbeeld een hond- nog heel dicht bij de natuur staan. Wanneer zo'n enorme kracht uit balans is kunnen we eigenlijk wel verwachten dat een eventuele disbalans ontzettend chaotisch kan zijn
⚡En toch vinden we het raar, eng of bestempelen het als "gevaarlijk".
ℹLeren Observeren in plaats van Kijken is hier het sleutelwoord. Zonder te oordelen of het een naam te geven: breng eens wat meer tijd door met je paard zonder fysiek actief te zijn. Observeer zijn/haar gedrag in de kudde, met vriendjes of in de rij/longeerbak met wat (onbekende) voorwerpen, of observeer je paard in een voor hem/haar bekende en onbekende omgeving en ervaar de verschillen in emoties, energie en manier van omgaan met de situatie.
🖊Schrijf op wat je ziet, eventuele vragen die je hebt en dingen die je al geleerd hebt. Beetje bij beetje zul je zien dat je mindset gaat focussen op heel andere dingen, je ziet dingen die je eerder niet zag! Oefening baart kunst en deze hoef je niet perse met je eigen paard te doen: je kunt zo veel leren van zo veel paarden!
📸 Energy Healing met Major, die niet wist wat te doen met zijn opgekropte emoties van onderdrukking en schaamte dat hij het zelfs fysiek tot uiting moest brengen. Voor een leek lijkt het op een "vals" paard, terwijl ook dit gedrag compleet normaal is 🐴
•Flooding versus Doing Nothing 📖
When we find an animal, other person or ourselves to be out of balance, we tend to "do more". We try more rules, more experiments, more food/supplements and more training. We try to get the situation back onder control. WE want to be in control, and it's completely normal.
Taking a step back (and maybe another) will not only help put things in perspective, it also relieves some pressure off the animal which is important for their next step: dealing with more freedom 🐎
⚡When a horse is out of balance physically/emotionally/spiritually it can become very chaotic and challenging very fast. This is also very normal; considering the horse's strong connection with Mother Earth and its representation of strength and freedom: if all this gets out of balance, you will see a lot of power coming out the negative way.
☯️Restoring the right balance in a horse is a beautiful but challenging concept. It takes a lot to be the one to guide the horse back to his authentic self, to observe what is too little or too much and to win back their trust❤
🐴Over the years I got to deal with horses who had seen other professional trainers but were written off as "dangerous". To me it was obvious that they just couldn't handle any more physical and emotional pressure, so I listened. Even when haltering them and getting them out of their stall, I'd always make sure that they were up for it. Thèy needed to make contact first.
And if at first we do nothing but just Be Here together, then that's fine with me too. Sometimes that what they need the most; someone who just sits with them and asks nothing but companionship.
It means the World to them❤🐴
Something to think about, one of my favorite pieces about leadership
"Every horse, every member of a herd, asks one question of the leader: Are you in charge or am I?
Each horse is looking for someone to lead the herd -even just a herd of two. The horse needs an answer. If you exhibit the four C's (Command, Control, Compassion, Communication), then the horse will accept you as "otancan" - the leader. If not, the horse must assume leadership over you.
Otancan is the Lakota word for "leader, the greatest". Once the horse recognizes you as otancan, he has two obligations to fulfill. The first is to follow you. In return for this, the horse expects you to look after him by exhibiting the four Cs. The horse's second duty - one many humans find difficult to accept - is to repeatedly challenge you as otancan. As the trainer, you are not permitted to remain otancan unless you consistently prove you deserve to be.
That's the octancan's burden. If you accept becoming otancan, being worthy in the eyes of your horse, you must rise to the challenge by bringing impeccability into your relationship. You develop a partnership with the horse that is free from your personal agenda, your private needs. Instead, you listen and look for the needs of your horse.'
Otancan: The Leader
( 'Zen Mind, Zen Horse - Allan J. Hamilton, 2011)
Picking up a horse's hind legs correctly can be a bit of a struggle.
The picture below is a still from a video (click on the picture to watch full video) where I work with a severely abused Arabian gelding.
As you can see, a light touch from my hand (along with the right energy) is enough for him to lift his feet. No squeezing or pinching required!!
Experiencing the differences between wild, domestic and abused horses made me realize that more often than not, it is not about WHAT you are doing, but HOW you are doing it.
In the beginning it might not even be about lifting their feet, but about getting them comfortable about you being around them, behind them, touching them. Good experiences will open doors to what you eventually want, but if you rush it, your hard work goes right out the window.
Tinderella, standing perfectly still while giving her hind leg without being tied, after working with her for about 15 minutes
If you'd like to see how I asses a new horse at Love This Horse Rescue (including picking up all 4 feet), watch the video below! At the end I'm doing some bodywork on the horse to get him to relax his end, a simple exercise to ask them to relax, shift their weight and eventually lift their leg.
♂️Bringing Male energy into the training of abused/wild/feral horses is SO IMPORTANT 🌟
Many rescue horses have been beaten and abused by men, so when it's time to reintroduce them to a male I like to bring my husband Wouter Collignon 🤠
His energy is perfect for making first contact with horses like Hennessy (picture) and of course Walter 🐴
The World is and has been dominated by harsh & male individuals for so long, which is not a good message for the young boys out there, who think that to become a "Man" it is necessary to be rough & tough.. 💔 What IS necessary is more Love, more Patience and more understanding 🌟
💕Good Always Wins 🙌🏽🌹
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MY VISION AND BELIEFS:
When I started working with horses, I was inspired by the old masters like Ray Hunt, Mark Rashid and Buck Brannaman. Their way of not "working" - but connecting with their horses felt so pure and true, I could feel it in my bones. I thought; 'This is what I want to learn, this is what I will pursue.' Now, over 10 years later, I have a passion. To help those who otherwise cannot be heard, to give them a voice and give them their lives back.
Setting yourself up for succes or failure
Horses are too spiritual and too pure to just grab them, hop on their backs and ask for something without ever giving anything in return, like partnership, comfort, respect and an appropriate environment to live in. Somehow, along the way, we've lost our ability to emphatize, to put someone else's needs before our own. We do this when we have children, we make the best choices possible and put our own lives on hold, just to support them. So why not with horses?
When you're setting goals, or having dreams for your horse, how long does it take you to get to the things that really matter? It's not about the lessons, your tack, your fancy outfit and brand new trailer. It's about making sure your horse is willing and able to do the things you ask from him. Not afraid of the consequences when he fails, but asking for guidance when things get tough. Like true partners.
Working & living with horses: More than our eyes can see
Over the years, while working with all kinds of horses in The Netherlands and USA, I have tested my theories (yes, I have many!) about partnership as the main ingredient during my rehabilitation program. These horses all had different backgrounds, like racehorses, cutting horses, hunter jumpers, reining horses, warmbloods, coldbloods, thoroughbreds. All with often one thing in common: a complicated and heart-breaking past, which has made them either angry at - or afraid of - people.
Just physical training and care aren't the right tools for these horses. They'll need much more support and guidance on an emotional and spiritual level. Like humans and other animals, horses have several energy fields. Humans have four (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual), horses have three: physical, emotional and spiritual. Each layer has a cellular memory, in which all kinds of impressions are being stored during their lives.
The physical layer is their body, with the cellular memory of wounds, trauma and disease.
The emotional layer exists a little outside the body, and carries feelings, emotions and emotional trauma.
The spiritual layer is the most distant, with humans this is the layer that carries our karmic lessons and trauma we're carrying from a life we've lived before. Since horses don't carry anything with them from past lives, this layer represents the Spirit itself, the horse's gift to the world. It's the horse in his highest, purest form.
As you can see, horses do not have a mental layer. So why is that?
Horses are not able to have negative thoughts or feelings about themselves, or limitative thoughts. They don't hold grudges, they just forgive and let go. However. Horses àre able to carry guilt, fear, all empathetically taken on from the humans it serves. Which means that when you're buying a new horse, they might have some energy blockages due to taking over the emotions from their previous owner(s). Since horses, like most animals, are more grounded than us humans, they are masters in empathetically taking on a humans emotion and then release and clear it very quickly. But if the horse's own needs aren't met, like lack of interaction with other horses, the wrong diet or even neglect/abuse, it gets harder and harder to channel all that (negative) energy. At this point, you'll have a horse that is (either) physically, emotionally or spiritually out of balance. These horses always show typical behavior like cribbing, biting, bolting, shoving, not cooperating, low energy, rearing, bucking or sometimes even attacking.
Integrated Energy Therapy
A great tool (for me) while working with these types of horses, is Integrated Energy Therapy (IET). This is a beautiful and safe way (since I don't necessarily need to be near the horse)to get the energy in their cellular memories flowing again.
For example, a little insight in IET from one of my study books:
"The cellular memory in the area of the throat and lungs is where feelings of shame about self-expression are suppressed. There is a great deal of strength in the throat center of a horse. This is conveyed by the archetypal image of the horse standing very proud and regal, with no sense of pride or boastfulness. Horses have a tremendous ability to be expressive and spontaneous. They have a very large range of expression."
"Energy can be suppressed into the horse's throat center, when a horse chooses to become "domesticated" so that it can enter into the path of service to humans. Some of the energy of a horse's wild spirit is suppressed into the throat center. When the horse is not serving humans and is allowed to be free, this spirit can flow through the cellular memory of the throat center and the horse's true spirited nature will be expressed.
By Energizing and Integrating the horse's cellular memories, we are able to imprint and restore the right energy that allows the horse to remain strong and true. To me, an essential part of working with horses.
"The Human possesses the one thing that means more to the horse than anything in the world, and that is peace and comfort." - Buck Brannaman