Kingsley, a six-year-old Welsh pony gelding who was under the impression he was a stallion, had been asked to move. Sweet-natured as he was, Kingsley was breaking down fences to be with “his mares,” who were in season. Lorraine, his human companion, had found a new boarding situation for him, one with a larger pasture, but she was concerned he would be depressed over the move or, a scary thought, even more unruly. She asked me to speak with him.
“Does she want me to be someone I’m not?” he asked almost as soon as the session began. I explained that, no, that wasn’t the case, but Lorraine would very much appreciate it if he stopped destroying fences. I also explained that he would be living closer to Lorraine, and so she would be working with him more often; he would have a job, and if all went well, he would have a child to work with in the fall. (Kingsley loves children.)
The next afternoon, Lorraine called me to say that Kingsley, who ordinarily was quite difficult to load, had jumped right onto the trailer, apparently eager to begin the next chapter in his life. At his new barn, he had jumped off the trailer in good spirits, curious yet calm about his new home. I’ve spoken with Lorraine subsequently, and she tells me that Kingsley is happy, has not broken down one fence, although there are mares present, and is progressing in his training with amazing speed.
Of course, speaking with a disruptive animal does not always result in a behavior change. As every horse lover knows, the creatures in our care-and that includes our dogs, our cats, our birds, our ferrets-are individuals. Some of them are just plain stubborn, and no amount of explaining, cajoling, or even pleading is going to change that.
But I have found that communicating with an animal usually does alter troublesome behavior-when the communication is a conversation; when I ask what is wrong and then listen to the answer; when I offer suggestions to the animal and explain boundaries; and when I accompany the conversation with Reiki (a type of energy healing) so that I can help to heal physical or emotional damage that may be contributing to the problem.
Franz, a beautiful young Friesian stallion, came to his new owner with serious behavior problems, among them biting, and bucking and rearing on the lunge line. Joyce-who used gentle, natural training methods-had been working with Franz for over a month and was certain that his issues were the result of a deep-seated fear; she asked me to try to find out what was troubling him. She wanted me to explain to him what his jobs would be (breeding stallion, trail horse, dressage) and to explain that she loved him and would never hurt him.
Because Franz had so much fear and pain in his body, I spent a large part of the session sending him Reiki healing. As I worked with him, I came to understand that he had been beaten at his previous barn. Physical trauma-as well as emotional or spiritual-leaves a mark in the energy field of a being. I most often see these marks as dark spots or holes in the energy field. I worked with Franz to heal the damage, to remove the darkness and fill the hole. I also sensed that he was tied in a large, tight knot, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Using Reiki energy, we worked together to release this knot.
Franz spoke as we worked. He was grateful to be away from his previous barn but dearly missed one of the horses he had left behind. He was filled with sadness. I asked him what Joyce could do to help him. He said, “Be kind to me. Be patient. I have a good heart.” I asked him if he knew why he had come to Joyce. Without hesitation, he said, “To be healed.”
A few days later, I received an email from Joyce saying that Franz had responded to the session immediately. He was no longer showing signs of pain, was no longer frightened, and was working with focus and a sense of joy.
Was the change in him merely coincidental, or had something profound happened between us as we worked together? I, of course, believe it was the later. When I work with animals in this way, I hear their voices (which my brain translates into words); I see them and their surroundings or see an incident they have experienced; I often touch their skin or feel their breath on my face. I experience their emotions-joy, fear, depression, excitement-sense the presence of illness, and often receive information about their unique spiritual journey. I experience all of this across distance, from my quiet work space at home. Working from a distance, I can focus on the animal completely, without the noise of the barn or home, the interruptions of the curious; working from a distance, the animal and I can more fully speak soul to soul.
Is it possible for you to converse with your animal in this way? Oh, yes. Everyone is born with the ability to communicate telepathically, to receive messages without actual sensory contact. When the phone rings and you know who it is before you answer it, this is telepathy. When you know that a friend or family member is ill before you’re told, this is telepathy. Because our culture does not, as a rule, nurture this kind of knowing, many of us have forgotten how to fully use it. But the knowledge can be revived. You have already begun. You know when your horse is unhappy or tired or ill. You know when you may have pushed him too hard. You know when she is frightened or excited or content.
Each of us is also born with the ability to heal with energy-the substance that surrounds and connects us, the “soup” we are all floating in. While I have been initiated into Reiki, an ancient Japanese tradition, all cultures have ancient forms of energy healing. Some of us choose to dedicate our lives to this type of healing, and so our abilities are more refined, but each of us is capable of healing others with touch-if we take the time to learn how to reconnect with this ability, if we practice, if we stay connected to the energy source that sustains us.
Our horses spring from an ancient source. This is what draws us to them. They are magical, mystical, with stories to tell us that will enrich our lives, that can change its very course. Is it is worth the time and patience it takes to learn to listen, to learn to place a hand on a wither and ease another being’s pain? I believe that it is.
This article first appeared in the August/September 2004 issue of The Sentinel.
© 2006 by Pamela Sourelis