Monday, June 27, 2022

My Heart Hurt Horse - Cassie - Part 3

So, I have not been on here for a while as we have been busy moving,   It feels strange posting about Cass in her early days, as she has changed so much, I have changed so much.  However, I feel I need to tell her story and show that a really traumatised horse can come through her trauma and learn to love and trust again.  So last time, I finished off by saying I had started to give Cass choices.  Simple ones really, did she want to be brushed was the biggest one.  She looked so surprised when this was offered, but definitely let me know each time I showed her a brush.  

One day, I was with a client, they were not having a session, just popped over to check in.  We took Cass out for some grass.  She had grazed at this spot many times, but suddenly she had a different attitude to being there.  She totally freaked out.  She was spinning in circles, rearing up, bucking.  All I could do was to go with it.  Keep my heart rate low and get out of the way.  In the end I had to encourage her to walk back to the pasture where her herd mates were and she then galloped around the enclosure until she wore herself out.  She was in full flight mode.  Something had triggered her and this was an episode that did not end for a long long time.  She is still very herd bound and doesn't like to be away from her herd mates, but these days she is lucid when she lets me know. In these early episodes she was not there.  It was scary, I am not going to lie.  She would also do this in her stable if her herd mates didn't come in at the same time, or didn't go out in the right order.  It didn't take much for her to be set off.  We worked on everything.  Honestly, I just allowed her to work through it.  Each episode would become shorter and shorter and eventually, as long as I was there, she would settle down.  I was her anchor. 

However, one day, not long after our first episode we were having a conversation about her not walking through a gate to get out to graze.  I told her, we were not going to be walking through it, but she was welcome to follow me and we could use her other gate and graze outside her enclosure.  I asked her to step back and out of my space and allow me to pass, which she did.   I started to walk back and all I heard was the thud of feet and then felt her a wallop to the side of my head and I was on the ground. She had gone past me, kicked out her back legs in pure petulance at being asked to move out of my way and not allowed to going through the gate.  I truly do not believe she meant to kick me. I know she was having an opinion and wanted to share that with me.  As soon as she saw me on the floor, she ran to the corner and shut down.  She gave me concussion and I went to the hospital and checked my wrist and head were not broken.  I was OK, but couldn't go to the barn for a couple of days.  Cass shut down and was so sad.  I went back on the Sunday and she was so sorry, she snuggled with me, but was sad, it came from every pore from her body.  To me, it was actually progress, she had become aware of her body again.  We had noticed that she was completely disassociated from her hind end and barrel, this was the first time, she intentionally used her body to express an opinion.  Normally she would just go into fight or flight and just couldn't see or feel straight.  She was waking up. 

I was definitely more nervous after this episode, I had brain damage, again!  My brain was swollen, I had headaches, I was dizzy and was not as quick on my responses as I should be.  Cass would react to that as well, she knew when I wasn't myself and could either be empathic to me or be stressed out due to me not being present.  Every time she moved quickly, I leaped in the air about 10 miles high! I was a bit of a hinderance to her progression, but it is OK, this is a journey for both of us.  

Throughout the remainder of 2021, we made slow, slow steps.  Everything has been in slow motion, there are days that I definitely didn't think I was making any kind of progress and times I felt I should just sell her.  However, I knew no one else would understand her and no one else would have the patience for her.  She would either be bred again or put to sleep.  I was not going to give up on her, I couldn't.  Cassie was too sensitive to have Masterson done on her, it released too much too quick.  I couldn't have my chiropractor adjust her back as it was too much.  So all the other avenues I would explore were currently closed to me until she was ready, we just had to see it through together, slowly.  Oh so slowly.

In December. it snowed a lot.  The first time she went out, she went crazy, galloped flat out, screaming.  It had triggered something in her.  It would have been a little over a year that she had been separated from her last foal which had been up North in the snow.  That was the only thing I could think would trigger her.  After that trigger, she licked and chewed and released whatever was going on.  After that, she just had lots of fun in the snow.  I loved that she was being able to regulate her own outbursts, releasing after something triggered her, bringing herself back down to the parasympathetic.   Had it only been 10 months since I got her.  Roll on 2022.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Gramma's Afterschool Pony Club

Ahhh, my sweet Gramma.  We lost Gramma earlier this year, but her memory lives on.  Gram's always had something to say and definitely something to teach.  Her favorite thing in the world, was kids.  She would stand for hours being brushed, flowers in her mane and just being loved on.  Favorite thing to eat was dandelions and little edible flowers.  

I remember when I was younger I couldn't get enough of horses, didn't matter what it was, but I wanted to learn and be around them.  I didn't care if I rode or not, I just wanted to learn about how to look after them, brush them, pick up their poop and know what to do if they were poorly.   So, I am projecting!!  This is my pet project, it is something that enables me to offer what I learned and everything I love about being around horses to young kids.  It doesn't matter if you have any experience, or are even comfortable around horses.  We will learn together.  The program is open to kids from Grade 2 to 7.  

I have run this program for a year or so on Bowen Island.  We had a small group of 6 kids and the week is split into two one hour sessions. The first hour is stable management.  This is where we learn about anything and everything about horses, from grooming, how they live, whether that be in a stable or on pasture or a track system.  We learn about first aid, what to feed our ponies, different breeds.  Even though this is not a riding program, we learn about different disciplines.  On our second hour it is all about the pony, we learn about how to handle the horse, leading, moving the horse around.  We learn about how we affect the horse, using our energy to work with the pony.  This also delves into the equine therapy side of things, how if we settle our body, listen to our senses and how that can affect the horse and ourselves.  We have built some quite amazing obstacle courses and using the skills we have learned work the ponies around the course.

2021 was a busy year for Pony Club, here are some of the things we participated in. We started by learning about how our pony likes to live and made our own stable yards, the group was very creative.  This is what I love about this program, you bring you to the table. I don't care if your stable has a chandelier, awesome!  

We also had Gramma's 30th birthday to celebrate, so we made Gramma a crown, as she deserves it!!  

After Grammas party and our stable building, it was Halloween.  OK, so my ponies are such good sports, we dressed them up for Halloween and of course had a party.  The group all chose different costumes we could dress the minis and Gramma up in and then we voted.  After, we broke into groups and the group all made their own costumes. I was so proud of them all.  They cut, they sew, they stuck.  I just supplied and helped out when needed.  At the party, we did apple bobbing, which I have to say, Clyde excelled at!!  All the ponies got treats.  Clyde was a bumble bee, and was so cute, he bobs his head up and down, so the little antennae bobbed all over the place.  Lightening was a show pony and was great at standing and being plaited up.  He looked just lovely!  Gramma was a sugar plum fairy.  She had a unicorn's horn and wings and a tutu.  Again, totally up to the group and their vision. 

Soooo, after Halloween, we continued on with some stable management.  We unfortunately lost one of the herd (not my horse, but still a member on the property).  We spoke about Odin passing away and how that happened.  We spoke about how the other herd members were handling the loss, especially his daughter.  We did cards for Christine who owned Odin and we visited Odin's grave.  This is a relevant part of learning and I managed this on an age appropriate basis and really held the space for the group to process and give their thoughts on the whole thing.  It was beautiful and enlightening.   

Christmas started to sneak up on us.  We wanted to give the horses stockings and treats.  So that is what we did!  I made the template for the stocking and the group sewed them together and decorated them.  We then found a recipe for treats and had an afternoon of making sticky, gooey yumminess for the horses to go into their stockings.  We hung up the stockings ready for the horses to enjoy later in December.  

We also did a lot of horsemanship through our second hour in the week (yep, all that was the first hour of the week).  We learned about our ponies body language and their energy.  We learned how to safely approach our ponies, understand when they were not happy to be brushed and poked, but also learning how our own energy affects all of this.  We spoke about how if we have a bad day or are upset or tired or super excited, all of this has an affect on our horses.  Some of the kids ride as well (at a different barn), and so we spoke about how that affects our pony when we are riding.  We learned that just by breathing, we can lower that energy, how we can sense into our surrounding area and listen to what is around us, can help regulate us.  The ponies always responded differently to each child in the group and I always give the group the option to participate or not.  Some days, we just don't want to and that is OK.  

We worked a lot in hand, catching and releasing, asking the ponies to walk and trot beside us by increasing our energy.  We learned how to move the pony around just by our energy and also discuss why our ponies sometimes didn't do as we asked.  Is that us or them?  

I give each of the kids journals and encourage them to use them throughout the program.  Whether drawing pictures of what is going on that day or writing how they are feeling, we then have the option to chat about that should they want to.  This can be on a one on basis or in a group.  We also worked a lot of self esteem, inclusivity, self confidence and loving who we are!!!  

We designed and built obstacle courses to work the ponies around.  Before doing any of this, we discussed if our ponies would be happy a four foot fence, or maybe having something they would enjoy would be nicer for them and it would mean they got to enjoy the experience and I pointed out they had to jump it as well next to them!  

We took our ponies out for walks and grass and all took it in turns and worked as a team when it came to our ponies.  

We also put our stable management experience into practice and mucked out their stables and turnouts, brushed them, learned what brushes the ponies liked.  Learned our to halter them and how to lead correctly.  We learned to put their blankets on and feed them.  Each member of the group really stepped up and took turns to do this.  They really worked as a team.  Of course, we brought in the equine therapy side of things, without it being a big thing.  This group became closer to one another and supported each other and were one another's cheer leaders.  I loved it!

Soon after the snow came upon us and we finished Pony Camp for the year.  We started briefly in 2022, however, due to us selling our home on Bowen and making our move to the Sunshine Coast, we have had this camp on hold.  However, I am chomping at the bit to get started again and have lots of plans and ideas for this program for this year and going forward.  I am very excited!  So please come and join us!!! 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Rest in Peace Gramma

This year, we said goodbye to the wonderful Gramma.  Gramma was the ripe old age of 30.  I bought her in September 2020, knowing our partnership would be a short one, but something just attracted me to her.  I kept seeing her face on the website of Second Chance Cheekeye Ranch and knew I had to meet her.  She was well loved and looked after at the ranch, but it is busy and this girl was surrendered by her family and I wanted her to live her final years in a quiet spot where she would be spoiled rotten.  

What I didn't realise with Ms Gramma is how bloody stubborn and feisty and wonderful and cuddly and what an amazing therapy horse she would be.  This girl taught me so much in the short time we had together.  Primarily how fast she could go when she wanted grass, how she thought it was funny if she galloped into her shelter, making as much noise as possible, therefore scaring the bejesus out of all the other horses in the immediate vicinity (usually Henry, who would then shoot off with me behind him).  How she would literally growl if she couldn't get her own way, ie had not finished eating her daily quota of grass.  Only Gramma knew what that quota was and she wasn't going anywhere until it was filled.  

She loved kids, adored them.  Little girls, couldn't get enough of.  Having little girls brush her for hours made her very happy.  They could poke, prod, brush, fuss for as long as they wanted. She knew they would take their time with her, had no where to be, were in the moment and could just be.  The joys of being a kid.  

In sessions, she was a mirror, she told you your truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.  She worked with her body language, but she also would just impart her knowledge to you. It used to blow me away again and again.  I would have her with a client, they may be brushing her and she would move away, telling them they were not congruent.  I would tell the client to step back, breath, close their eyes, feel their feet on the ground and just see what their body was telling them.  Gramma would hold space for them, guiding them through their body.  When she felt they had made headway, she would walk over, trundle or gallop down to the bottom of her turnout and roll until she had released all that energy out of her.  It was quite a beautiful sight to see.  Even when the client felt they had got to a point, she would pull them back until she had finished with the client.  

Grams had very strong boundaries as well.  She did not do grief or sadness.  She had had enough in her life and didn't want to have anymore.  We respected that.  Ironically, those who had grief or were sad navigated towards her for comfort.  Gramma had other ideas on that!

Gramma had arthritis in all her legs and eventually this was her demise.  She was uncomfortable, sore and ready to go.  I had been having some personal issues and with that came with grief and sadness.  Knowing how Gramma was not happy to support that, I had ensured I had not put that on her and also due to said personal stuff going on, I wasn't listening to my herd.  Anyway, we had a little chat one evening when I was able to take a breath and asked if she was done. She took a deep breath and sighed as if to say, finally, you are listening.  A week later we said goodbye.  She went so very peacefully.  

I will miss this temperamental old lady, but I loved her a lot.  In Gramma fashion, she had briefed the herd she was done and not to grieve her, they all settled after she left.  She has left a large gramma hole at the barn, but will never be forgotten.  She was such a good sport, being dressed up for Halloween, wearing fairy crowns for her birthday and just being who she was.  

Sleep well my sweet girl, say hello to Rumor and Hearts for me.  Love you.

Monday, March 7, 2022

So What Happens in a Session?

With the consent of my client, I am allowed to give you a sneak peak into what happens in a session.  Full disclosure, my client has read and approved all materials below!!

One of my younger clients, Tom came to me for his weekly session.  We always start by checking in and see what has been going on in his world for the week.  I like to catch up, see where we are at that moment in time and what has been going on for each of my clients.  When I started working as a life coach, I didn't think that I would be life coaching my kid clients, however, of course I would be!!!!  None of us have all the answers to questions, but we have a habit of solving problems for others.  This is not what a life coach does.  We work together, solve the problems together, I ask questions, but never give solutions.  

So, Tom and I checked in and he explained that he had a friend that didn't have any boundaries and was on top of him the whole time. I asked what that meant, he said that he would grab him, be in his space, in his face, touching him.  I asked him how that make him feel in his body, he said nervous, it over whelmed him and he didn't like it.  I asked him what would happen if he asked him to stop, asked him not to come into his space.  He said he hadn't done that and I asked why.  He said he didn't want to upset him.  OK, so how could we figure something out that both parties would be happy?  How about, we take the minis to the round pen and play with boundaries.  Tom was up for that.  We are going to use Clyde, hmmm, I prefer Lightening said Tom, yep, but Clyde is a better mirror for this.  OK.....

We lead the minis up to the arena and let them have a little run around and roll.  Now they are ready for work.  So when working with any of my horses, we make sure they are happy and ready to work. So we do what they need.  Generally, they like to have a run around and a big roll.  Maybe a little munch of grass.  That is OK, whilst they do that, we do a little breathing and sensing in.  What is that?  We take some breaths into our body, sense into our surroundings, listening to the sounds, smelling the air, feeling the earth beneath our feet and the air on our face.  It allows us to relax, come into our body, be in the present.  Magic happens when we take that breathe.  

Once the minis have had their little run around, we catch them, again through our previous session, there is a complete science behind it.  Looking at their body language, watching them, not running up to them, taking our time and breathing in between.  Once lead ropes are on, we take Clyde into the round pen, whilst Lightening hangs out with Tom's mum.  The exercise is all about boundaries.  How comfortable are we when our pony approaches us, when do we feel safe and can we ask our pony to stop and how does our pony feel about that?  

I asked Tom to stand one end of the round pen and I would walk Clyde to him. Tom had to put his hands up when he wanted Clyde to stop.  As I walked towards Tom with Clyde, I could see Tom's body language changing, but he was not asking Clyde to stop.  We came right up to Tom with Clyde's nose touching Tom's chest.  I asked him if he was comfortable with Clyde right there.  He squeaked yes, I asked, really??  Erm, maybe not.....  OK, lets try that again.  This time, I brought Clyde around and watched Tom's body language, as I could see it changing I stopped Clyde.  I asked him if that was comfortable, he said yes it was.  I then took a step closer and asked if he still felt comfortable.  He did.  I took another step forward and asked again, I could see that Tom's body language was changing again.  I checked in with him, and he squeaked it was OK.  I took a step back with Clyde and asked how that felt.  Oh much better thank you.  So this time, I said I would walk Clyde round and for Tom to ask him to stop.  This time, stand tall, raise our body energy and put our hands up, so we almost had a force field around us and lets see what Clyde would do.  We did the exercise again and Tom did as I suggested and this time he grew and put his hands up and Clyde stopped in his tracks.  Yay, perfect.  Now, as I asked Tom what he thought Clyde felt about being asked to stop.  I asked him to take a look at Clyde's body language and tell me what he thought Clyde was feeling.  He said his ears were forward, so that is good.  He was standing still and looking at him and that was OK.  I asked did he look sad that he has been asked to stop.  He said no, he didn't look too bothered.  Awesome!!  So, I asked Tom, can you do that with you friend this week and come back to me and let me know how that goes.  Yep he replies.

Roll forward next session and Tom comes bouncing in.  I did it, I did it!!  Did what Tom?  He said I did the boundary thing with my friend.  Oh, how did that go.  It was awesome he said.  His friend came running towards him and he put his hands up and grew his energy, just like he did with Clyde and his friend just kind of ran around him, just like he had a force field around him.  Great I responded.  So how did his friend feel about that?  He didn't care he said, he just kept going and didn't even notice.  He wasn't upset then?  No!!!  See, I said, it is boundary magic, we just need to change our body language a little, grew our energy and set our boundaries and our friends do not really notice.  

So with a lot of kids, they get physical, loud, push, shout, get frustrated when someone comes into their space.  They are not being bad, not being rude, they are just needing more time to adjust to someone coming up close and personal.  Figuring out their boundaries, do they even know what a boundary is? However, it can be the other way, where they can burst into tears, allow their friends and family in their personal space and not have the courage to say no.  It is so important we listen to our kids boundaries, not only to validate their personal body space, but give them the choice of saying yes and no to anyone coming into their space.   Equate this to consent.  

Thank you to Tom for allowing me to share and also for being him.  Trusting me and my herd to help him and then actually taking our lessons and using them.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Ted X Talk

Did I ever tell you the time I did a TedX talk on Horses Healing Humans, Healing Horses????  Nope, well I did.  

For me this is a huge thing, as I had speak publicly.  I am not good at this.  It terrifies me.  Anyway, here is my talk.  There are strict rules when it comes to Ted talks, so I couldn't speak about my work or life coaching, so I came at it as a personal story, which it is, because unless I put the work in on myself, I am not being authentic or true to myself.  It is not pretty going on these journeys, but oh so rewarding!!!

Tedx Talk

Monday, January 10, 2022

My Heart Hurt Horse Cassie - part 2

My wonderful friend is an animal communicator.  For those of you out there who do not know what this is, it is a person who can intuitively and through going into a meditative state can communicate with animals.  Well I kind of think it is along those lines!!  The deeper I go into this work and and connect with my own body and listen to what it is saying, I feel a deeper connection with my horses. I get images, feelings, sensations.  They are hazy, but generally, I have been in the right direction with each of my horses so far.  It is fascinating and sometimes sad, but enlightening to know they are sharing their stories with me in order for me to help them. 

So anyway, with Cassie, it was a little harder, as the barrel of her body kept coming up and her hind end and the sadness of the loss of her foals.  My friend kept getting images of us reengaging her hind quarters, getting her to notice her barrel.  Cassie didn't know her back end existed and had disassociated herself from it.  It made sense. I could brush her, do what I wanted with her, but she never had an opinion.  We can come to our own opinion of why she was disassociated with her body.  Generally when a human has had trauma in their life, they do not like to go back to that place, they do not feel safe inside their body because that safe space has been taken from them.  The horse is the same.  However, with a horse, they do not reply the story in their head, but they do hold the trauma in their body.  As my journey with Cassie develops, I can start piecing the jigsaw together.  She had been abused when she was a racehorse, I am assuming (due to her not being near whips), she was pretty badly beaten, so it would make sense that she had disassociated from the barrel of her body.  However, why from her hind quarters?  Again, I am assuming, but intuitively, I feel that it was to do with her being bred.  She is such a sensitive girl, so sensitive to smell, sound, heart rate, I have never known a horse so sensitive, so being asked to be a mother, and she was a good mother and loved her babies must have been so hard for her.  She was presented to a stallion. I know she was covered twice by a stallion and artificially inseminated for another foal.  I have worked in studs before and even though I didn't see it at the time, it is brutal when a stallion covers a mare.  Generally they are hobbled (meaning their back legs are tied down, so they can't kick the stallion) and the stallion gets to do his job, but they are pretty rough.  I will allow you to come up with your own story for what Cassie went through.  However, this is the normal way we have done things when the stallions are worth so much money.  She has had her choice taken away and therefore disassociated from herself.  Sorry, if this is too much information, but it plays a big part in her story and her finding her body again.  It wouldn't even occur to most owners that there is any other way of breeding. I prefer the idea of putting the mare in with the stallion and letting her choose whether she wants to be bred.  It is done, it can be dangerous, but she has a choice and we advocate for our choices, why not our animals????  

So anyway, now we have a base of where we can start from.   I started with getting her to reach around and eat a little of carrot that I would have on the barrel of her body.  We do this to help flexibility with our horses, but for Cassie, she could easily do this, but honestly, she didn't even see her body.  Her whole body was still, rigid.  So I would ask her to gently move, just one step over and she would always be surprised to do it.  She didn't really associate the work with checking in with her body, just she got some extra carrot!  So I changed tactic and asked whether she wanted to be brushed or not.  I would walk up to her and show her the brush.  I would chose different brushes and brush her very slowly and gently, watching for the tiniest of movements on her body.  She loved to have her head brushed, especially her ears.  However, as I started to offer her the choice, she decided that the rest of her body was out of limits.  As soon as I noticed her give me a NO on her body, whether that be a tiny twitch, her nose wrinkle, an ear go back, a slight movement on the leg, her tail swishing, I would stop and step back.  She would register that I had noticed her being uncomfortable with being brushed.  She definitely got braver in saying no. I would go to her stable (and still do) and show her the brush and ask her if she would like to be brushed today.  Most of the time, she will walk into the corner of her stable with her back end to me and nodding her head up and down agitated.  This is a no, so I respect that.  Yep, she has been pretty grimy this year, but she has had a choice for the first time in her life of whether she wanted her body touched.  In her 17 years, I don't think she had ever been given a choice.  Some days she would let me brush some parts of her body, but other areas are too sensitive or she just wasn't up for it that day.  Each day was different.  Now, through all of this, my breath was one of the most important factors with Cassie.  I would breath slow and steady, exhaling from my mouth, allowing anything that didn't serve either of us to be exhaled and taken away.  It also kept my heart rate low.  I wear a fit bit and I can tell you this has saved my bacon a few times with her.  These days, she uses the corner of her stable as a time for her to adjust to the fact that she will allow me to brush her, but she needs that moment and when she is ready, she comes over to me and lets me brush, but as soon as she has had enough, she tells me and I step back and stop.  I never push her over her personal boundaries.  I will be honest, there have been a few times, where I need to put a headcollar on her and tell her we need a very quick brush, because she is so grimy, but I allow her to adjust to this and do it super quick and then give her lots of scratches to make up for the fact I over stepped.  For 90% of the time, it is her choice.

I had noticed that when I took her for a walk, we would hit a spot and she would get agitated, starting to jog, I would have to move faster to keep up with her, (I have very short legs) and she would get even more agitated, jumping around and getting restless.  So one day, I stopped just before the spot and took some breathes.  I noticed that my heart rate had elevated, only a bit, but she was happy when it sat at 75 to 85 bpm.  When it started to creep up to 90 bpm, she was not a happy horse.  Hmmm, so I would stop and let my heart rate drop before we continued on and through this, she settled back down.  Go figure.  My heart rate was a trigger for her anxiety, which makes sense. In the wild, if one horses heart rate goes up, everyone else is on flight mode and they run for it.  She was listening to what I was doing and feeling and using that as an indicator of whether she was safe or not.  However, I was just unfit and couldn't keep up, but she didn't know that!!!  

As we started to work on choices, being able to have a voice, life changed a lot for Cassie.  I can tell you now, it was going to get a lot worse before it started to get better.  I was in for quite a brutal ride for a couple of months and it was not pretty!!!  Oh and by ride, I mean me on the ground, horse spinning around me.  Enter Part 3 of my beautiful heart hurt horse's recovery.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Heart Hurt Horse - Cassie Part 1

There are so many other posts I should be writing. I have taken some time off to recharge and plan for the new season and will be back at it around March, so should really be marketing and prepping, but I have to take some time out and write about my Thoroughbred, Cassie.  I have spoken about her a bit before, but having the time off, has given me time to reflect on how far this girl has come.  So bear with me, get comfortable and I want to tell a story, a story which has been able to be changed.  Something on days, I didn't think would.  We still have a long way to go, but my heart hurt horse is learning to trust and be a horse again.

I bought Cassie last February (2021), bit of an impulse buy if I am really honest.  John (my long suffering husband) and I had enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant and was waiting for our daughter to finish her shift.  John had popped to the washroom (so you know I wasn't checking my phone whilst out with him :-)) and I flicked onto Facebook.  Cassie came up looking for a home.  This beautiful girl looked at me from the page and I was smitten.  I thought, OK, if she is close by, I will maybe go and see her.  So, I inquired, she was close by, in Mission.  Crap, I had to ask more about her.  She was being sold as a brood mare only.  I was the first to ask about her.  Roll forward a day or two, I had a lovely chat with her trainer and explained what I do and hoped that maybe Cassie could become a therapy horse and since she was rideable, maybe I could ride her as well.  I even played with the idea of breeding her for about 10 seconds anyway!  I went and met her and it was love at first sight.  The owner had told me they had had about 30 inquiries about her, but needed to find her the right home.  She came out and placed her head on my chest and I gave her a snuggle.  I stood with her a bit and something just felt right.  I do love a big horse.  She is 17.1hh.  The owner and trainer both saw the connection and said she was mine if I wanted her.  My long suffering husband sent the etransfer as I was driving back home.  She arrived at the barn a week later. 

Now, her previous owners are lovely, amazing, gave her the best home, but I feel they were not sure what to do with her.  The bit of history I do know about her was that she was a race horse for the first few years of her life and mistreated.  We know she is terrified of sticks, so you can imagine what happened and her tongue was tied, which is very common in the racing world.  So one side of her mouth is fairly paralyzed and she cannot have a bit in her mouth.  Her last trainer had worked with her, and she works beautifully on the flat and showjump's to a decent height.  Cassie is such a gentle soul and will try her heart out for you, whatever you are asking of her.  However, the trainer mentioned to me that she could go into a full PTSD mode, I nodded, didn't really take any notice and figured if it happened I would deal with it.  She mentioned that she had taken her out and this is when the PTSD made an appearance.  So, for the last seven years of her life, she had been breed to three different stallions and produced beautiful babies and was a tender, loving mother. 

So, Cassie arrived at the barn and I turned her straight out in her little turnout and everything was fine.  In the evening, I brought her in first and she lost it.  I put her in her stable and she was rearing, tearing around, kicking out, bucking, screaming for her field mates and in a sweat.  I stood back and thought, what the hell had I done!!!  As usual, I jumped in and figured I would deal with the consequences later.  However, that also being said, I am of the opinion that I am never going to get a horse that does what it says, because I work differently with horses. I let them have a voice, I build relationship, trust and love between us.  It is so important to me and I can't work any other way.  It doesn't matter if it takes months or years, but I want my horses to have a say in their life.  

Something that did resonate for me, was how sad Cassie's eyes were.  In the following weeks, I took Cassie out for walks, in the round pen, on the lunge.  She did everything I asked of her.  We would go for grass, she would eat.  She did like to be near her herd, but other than that, she was an easy horse.  My friend who does Masterson came and did a session and we saw how well she responded to it.  Masterson is a bit like acupressure for horses and helps release anything that has built up in the horse, whether that be trauma mentally or pain in their body.  We figured she had been through quite a bit, so thought a session would be a nice release.  I feel this opened the door to the start of Cassie's healing. 

However whether it is a human or animal that has had trauma, it goes in stages.  The trauma happens, it stays with us, it can replay again and again, for a human this is in their head, the story keeps going and it is hard to change it.  For an animal they hold it in their body and it can appear at any time.  I believe this is what happened with Cassie and her PTSD moments, she would relive what had happened, but at the same time she was so disassociated in her body. All those compliances in the round pen, grazing, walking where like walking in a fog.  When a lot of animals "misbehave" they are told off for it, but they are trying to tell us something.  For Cassie, she would go into fight and flight all at the same time.  Again, I think this was her going back to the trauma she had endured.  Seeing her in full flight was scary, I am not going to lie and again, I wondered what I had let myself in for.  Cue my lovely friend the animal communicator......