"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph;
a beginning, a struggle and a victory." - Ghandi
Last night was one of the hardest I have had in a while, but the most rewarding. Lori is quite talented and somewhat holistic (for lack of better word) in her approach. Now, I am not one for all that hocus pocus holistic/talk to horses mumbo jumbo...but I did gain a new respect for it last night. She was able to pick up instantly (without knowing anything about him) how sensitive he is...to everything in general, including me. (I'll come back to that.)
She started working on him and within 15 minutes, I could see the tension and stress leaving his body. He was leaning into what she was doing, his ears were going floppy and it is going to be sort of hard to explain, but at one point in time, it looked like his butt and back were being filled up with helium and he was getting more round by the second. Don't get me wrong it wasn't easy for the first 5 or 10 minutes - he was ouchie and tense and not comfortable...She pointed out when she started out that there was a 'stress vein' on his face running under his left eye to his mouth...she told me to keep an eye on that while she was working on him. She asked about what we were doing right before he got hurt. I said: We had about 2 months of a rough patch where we were having a hard time figuring each other out, then all of a sudden at the end of February, we just clicked and it all started working. We went to a show the Sunday before he got hurt and he was a star. So, we were on a high, it was the best we had been to date and for the first time, felt like I truly KNEW and believed Chester had the confidence in me as his pilot that I wouldn't steer him wrong. He trusted me completely, even if he wasn't 100% sure about it himself. We were a team, a good one. Then, he got hurt.
Basically, we were at a high and then it all came crashing down.
Lori asks me then: have you forgiven that other horse for hurting Chester? I looked at her and just about had a breakdown...okay, well, I did have a breakdown. I started crying and said I felt like it was my fault he got hurt because I wasn't able to protect him AND I KNEW he was out in a tiny paddock with a horse that was kicking the sh*t out of him everyday AND had asked for him to be moved, and that he wasn't. That was what was making me feel horrible about everything. Like I was the one to blame. I said - I don't think I have. She said, well do it now, horses play out there all the time and things like this are going to happen. Take a deep breath and let it go. So I did.
As with humans, horses can carry a lot of stress/tension in their necks...Lori could hardly work on his neck without him flinging his head around like a moron. She told me to take a deep breath, close my eyes, forgive that other horse for hurting Chester and visualize a positive picture in my head. So I did and as I was doing that, she was continuing to work on Chester's neck. I opened my eyes a minute or two later, and Chester had 'given in' and had his neck and head outstretched and his lips were twitching.
She says to me: He is so in tune to everything you do, feel, sense, that he reacts to it the same way you do. He knows you were upset about something, even if he wasn't sure what it was and he was able to pick up on that. While he might have gotten over what happened to him, he couldn't get over it completely without you getting over it yourself. So, he was still holding on to that because he felt like he still needed to protect himself from whatever was bothering you. This horse follows your every move and completely picks up on your vibes. I knew when you let it go yourself, because instantly, he did too.
I just looked at her like a total moron then looked at my horse....he looked relaxed.
She was able to apply pressure to ALL the points on his body that had been holding on to the stress he had been carrying in him before. He didn't flinch. Not from pressure to his back, to his hips, to anywhere it was applied.
The stress vein was gone. There were no more ouchie points on his body. The amount of pressure to his hips and back we applied is something I haven't been able to do for 6 weeks. We take him into the arena and lunge him...in which he is relaxed through his back and neck, his nose to the ground...he was even snorting on the lunge line...
What did I visualize? Qualifying for the Championships in September.
I have forgiven myself for allowing Chester to get hurt and in turn, I think he has been able to let it go.