Two mares’ healing stories

Two mares’ healing stories

I’ve never met a horse who cared what training I’d taken or what license I had. They care about how it feels when I stand next to them. Horses reward our authentic efforts to deepen our breathing, quiet our minds, let go of our agendas, and enjoy sharing the present moment with them. They are, after all, herd animals who seek connection.

Yet, horses are such experts at sensing subtle shifts in their environment, they know when we aren’t fully present. If they have been allowed to have a voice and express themselves, they will let you know. Luna, a Tennessee Walking Horse mare, did not care for how I was approaching her. She didn’t make a fuss, she simply stepped away from me each time I approached her to do a stroke, and so prevented me from touching her. This was while I was doing practice bodywork sessions with every horse I could. I had an agenda. I was going to ‘do this session.’ I wasn’t unkind to her, but I was not meeting her where she was. She said ‘No thanks’ efficiently and effectively. My ego was bruised, but I have not forgotten the lesson, and I am grateful to her for giving it to me.

This post is about two mares who went into a place of very deep internal processing in which their attention was not focused on their environment, but inside. Their process time was followed by very expressive releases. Horses have to feel very safe to go that deeply internal, and that is why I am sharing these stories. The first happened in March, the second happened a few months later during our clinic on May 20th, 2017.

Roxy is a sensitive mare who is not that interested in the structural integration strokes I’d been offering her, but had responded beautifully to Tui-na. Her owner and I agreed that at the next bodywork session, I’d just do Tui-na (the manual therapy part of Chinese Medicine) and energy work, and let Roxy show us what she wanted. I started with a fluid stroke going with her hair; I worked with both sides. I usually start with this stroke as a way of saying hello to the horse’s tissue (having already introduced myself to the mare as I step into her space.)

Next, I began a rhythmic percussive stroke on her right side starting at the poll. When I got to her shoulder, she offered to pick up the right front foot. I went with her offer, and held it while taking it through gentle range of motion with lots of vibration, finally stretching it in front of her with more vibration. After that, Roxy stood and processed for over an hour. Her lovely and sensitive person stood with us, understanding what was going on. During that time we observed Roxy’s body making many self-adjustments going from head to tail in ripples. It looked like waves moving through her. Then after a particularly long and deep process with fluttery eyes, quivering lips, and intermittent jolts as her head lifted up, then relaxed again, Roxy yawned, stretched her head out, and with flared nostrils gave a BIG blow with snot followed by more yawns. She was cuddly and affectionate with both of us afterwards. As we stood together in the arena where we worked, we let Roxy off the lead and enjoyed watching her wander around exploring her environment. Periodically, she’d come back to us and check in.

While teaching an Intro to Bodywork for Horses workshops on May 20th, I taught the first two strokes I’d used with Roxy. I had also been talking about reading the horse’s body language, pointing out when the horse was processing, and encouraging people to look for the releases, and pause while the horse released. This was a new idea for many of them because it is easy to mistake processing for ‘sleeping’ or something similar. I was really happy with how everyone really explored this idea and gave the horses a lot of time and space during the practice time.

As I was helping a couple of people with one of the other horses, I heard the loud sound a horse makes when they are meeting another horse – kind of a throaty, angry sounding squeal. I went to see what was going on and was told that Moxie had had her head very low, eyes closed and had suddenly made this sound and struck out with a front foot. Nobody was hurt, they had been standing at the end of the lead rope. Moxie then walked towards me and put her nose in my hands with a totally relaxed face. I suggested Moxie’s person take her for a walk to help her integrate whatever she had released. After that we talked about her release, and that Moxie was finished with being a practice horse for our workshop. Her nervous system did not need any more input.

My Tui-na instructor talks about how Tui-na can release the mental and emotional stress and trauma held in the tissue as well as the physical. She talks about old movies getting replayed as they are processed and released, and warns us to watch out because horses can be dangerous in their releases without meaning to be. I had never seen anything remotely dangerous until Moxie’s big release. I was very moved by this mare having such a big release in the middle of a workshop with 8 people and 2 other horses in the arena, including her owner. And I was equally impressed by how quickly it passed through and she was back with us, present and sweet.

We talk about horses living in the present. They are hard wired to be exquisitely sensitive to subtle shifts in energy in their environment in order run away from potential danger. Once they are finished running away, and their nervous system settles back to the place of rest and digest (aka the Parasympathetic Nervous System) from the arousal of fight or flight, they go back to doing what they do so well: living in the present, grazing, simply being.

These mares’ stories illustrate quite vividly how doing less can be far more effective than trying to do a lot of techniques and other stuff.

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By |2017-05-22T12:52:26-08:00May 22nd, 2017|Bodywork, Case Studies, Horse Stories|0 Comments

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