One of the five principles of Reiki is, “Just for today, I will let go of worry.” I’ve learned that worry is a thief. It steals time, sleep, health, creativity. It makes us blind to the joy and abundance around us. Because thoughts are like magnets, when we worry, we invite into our lives the very things we are worried about.
The anecdote to worrying is to think positive thoughts, to be grateful for all that you have, to trust (in other words to know) that all is well. We cannot control every aspect of our lives, but we can control our response to circumstances and events. If we refuse to worry, we will soon have nothing to worry about.
What does this have to do with our horses? Our state of mind has a powerful impact on their state of mind. It has an impact on all of the creatures in our care, but horses are so incredibly sensitive, so attuned to their surroundings, that I believe that the impact of our worry is even more debilitating for them.
A client of mine recently emailed because she was worried about her gelding. He’d been diagnosed with a suspensory injury several months prior, and while he was much better, he still was not completely himself. She was most concerned about his mood. He seemed depressed, distant.
In my session with him, before I could ask him how he was feeling, he said, “I have so much to tell you! I’m ready to be a serious riding horse.”
“Serious”? I asked.
“I mean real riding,” he said. “I want to cover more ground.”
“OK,” I said. “But you still have an injured leg right? You’re still in pain, right?”
He didn’t respond. It was as though this thought had not occurred to him. He said nothing further during the session, in which I channeled Reiki and worked with his body. My sense was that he was extremely bored, which I told my client.
Several days later, I got a lengthy message from my client. Here is a portion of it:
“Thursday morning I was in his stall and asking him what he needs. I told him he knows my heart and knows I’m trying to do my best to get him well. I’m trying to listen; I’m here; what do you need?
“So on the way home last night I was thinking . . . it popped in my head from your notes that when you asked him about his injury and whether he still had pain, he didn’t respond.
You got the feeling that it never occurred to him. Then, I realized that it has been my own fear of hurting him more and my worry and negative vibes when it comes to him that may be getting in the way of his healing. I decided I was no longer going to treat him as though he was injured and in pain, not that we were going to go all out, but my attitude and thinking were going to be different.
“When I got home, I went straight to the barn, told him we were gonna ride tonight and asked if that’s what he needed. I put his boots on and saddled him up. I hand walked him down the fence line and back. He seemed to be walking pretty good, so I mounted up and we started to walk.
“The first pass down it seemed to be a little hard for him. I kept talking to him and telling him that he said he wanted to be a serious riding horse and this was going to help him. We would take it easy but if he was wanting to really ride, we were going to have to walk and get some exercise.”
Long story short, they had a wonderful ride, complete with lots of praise and a bit of Reiki. And they had two more wonderful rides that weekend, one with my client on his back, one with a neighborhood child on his back. Very slow, easy rides (but with some trotting and ground poles); very happy horse. Positive thinking had turned the situation around.
A few weeks later, I visited a large, commercial barn and spoke to about a dozen horses. The first horse I spoke to was a four-year-old gelding. His human had told me that she had lost her mare about six months prior. She tried not to, but couldn’t help crying when she said it. Clearly, she was still grieving. She’d bought this little boy a few months prior and was having trouble with him. He was hard to handle, sometimes even bucking. She loved him on the ground, but although she was working with an excellent trainer, she was fearful of riding him. She was worried that she was not the right person for him, that she had bought the wrong horse.
The horses were in their stalls because of rain. This little man kept repeating that he needed to be outside more, that he needed to run and play with his buddies, that he was bored, that he wanted to go out, that he wanted to play, that he WANTED TO GO OUT. Because he was so fixated on turnout (and who can blame him?) and because his human was the person who had set up my visit, I checked back in with him a few days later (with his human companion’s permission).
His first words were these: “Her grief gets in the way. She doesn’t know how to have fun.” When I told him that his human was fearful of his behavior, he said, “Well, I don’t know what to say. I’m just being me. I don’t mean any harm. I just want to play. I stand around too much. This isn’t good for me. And then she is afraid. I think it’s sadness more than fear.”
A bit later in the session, I asked, “Do you have a sense of why you are with Lilly [not her real name]?
He said, “Maybe to help her get her laughter back? But she would need to play by my rules, no worrying, lots of playing.”
I passed this message on to Lilly, in the hopes that she can lift her heart, stop worrying, start playing with this gorgeous boy.
About the same time, I began working with a four-year-old Percheron cross who had been a PMU foal. His human companion wrote: “I don’t even know where to begin . . . He has been with me a little over two years now; he still has huge trust issues. When he came to me he was skin and bones, very malnourished and I think depressed, unhalter broken and basically unhandled at all except for being fed and occasionally wormed . . . I’m worried about my boy . . . I am really hoping you will be able to help us . . . I talk to Buddy all the time, try to explain things to him and I know he listens but we are still at an impasse. I have people telling me all the time how dangerous he is. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t know how to get through to him.”
In a subsequent email, she added that Buddy does not like to be touched anywhere and absolutely refuses to allow her to touch his legs or feet. She said she was also worried that Buddy doesn’t like the barn owner, that this is causing him stress. The client was so worried about him she said she had not gotten a decent night’s sleep in months.
But when I spoke with Buddy, the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m a very lucky boy. I’m in a home where someone loves me deeply, cares for me.” When I asked him about the barn owner, he didn’t respond; to him, it was a non-issue. His only complaint was that he was confined in a stall too much. He asked to be able to live out in the open (as he had done in the past).
I worked with his body, which was holding tension, showed him how to let someone pick up his feet, and channeled Reiki to him. [This was all done across distance.] It became clear to me as I worked that his problems with being touched stemmed in great part from his human’s worried attitude, her negative energy, which he was absorbing like a giant sponge.
After a few sessions, Buddy began to relax. His human companion began to relax, too. She emailed me a few days ago to say Buddy is calmer around her now, is allowing her to touch his legs, and that she talks to him about the property she is looking for so that he can be outside as much as he likes. She breathes more deeply around him, enjoys his presence. All is well.
I think sometimes we drive our horses crazy. I think if we learned to breathe deeply, gave thanks for the abundance in our lives—which includes our gorgeous horses—praised and patted and played, a lot of our problems would simply melt away.
Until next month . . .
*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in August 2008.
© 2008 by Pamela Sourelis