In the world of equestrian care, the nature of horsekeeping has many intricate layers, even in the simplest of daily routines.
But when this delicate balance is disrupted and a horse acts out, calming a challenged horse can be a daunting task due to their size. Riders then often find themselves entangled in a web of conflicting advice on how to handle the situation.
As they seek guidance from numerous well meaning professionals that often ends up creating confusion rather than results. It’s in these moments of desperation, when all conventional avenues have faltered, that I’m usually beckoned in to lend a healing hand.
And it was precisely at this critical juncture that destiny brought me face to face with Shiraz, a magnificent creature whose plight ignited a fire within my soul.
She’s a mare with a wilder streak.
So when her guardian bought her she was advised against it by some friends within the horse industry. They felt she would prove to be handful and that she did.
Her new family were experienced equestrians, who felt ready to jump with Shiraz and take their riding to the next level. The only problem was Shiraz had other plans!
She would often rear and be unpredictable.
Hard to handle from the ground and when mounted. And would even lash out at other horses, causing serious damage with her powerful hind legs. Some of which I have personally helped put back together again over the years in conjunction with their allopathic vets!
But rather than give up Shiraz’s guardian searched for help on calming a challenged horse. Ireland is a small country with some big equestrian names.
They reached out to top trainers.
From traditional all the way to the Monty Roberts method. Yet none of them could reach her. And once again her guardian was advised to move her on. And that is when she heard about me.
As a comfortable outlier within the horsie scene people tend to hear about me just at this point of desperation. Heck I even have equine vets call me up when everything they’ve tried is not working.
My dream one day is to be that first equine call.
As I feel I have so much insight to share around calming a challenged horse, which may not run within old traditions and paradigms, but certainly runs within the wishes of the horse. And it was that key ingredient that enabled me to be the one who finally reached Shirazy girl, as I now affectionately call her.
I listened, gave her a voice and asked what it is she needs to feel more comfortable, happier. More heard. As a result I recognised there was a trauma in her that needed to be honoured & healed, not trained out of her.
She needed space and time.
As she had gotten off on the wrong foot with us humans, from an earlier age. Combine that with her incredible spirit, she was determined to get our attention. To hold us accountable.
And I admire her for that, in fact I welcome that honesty in a horse that I work with. We both know where we stand and it’s clear what work needs to be done.
The horses I worry about the most are the ones that internalise trauma. Who quietly shut down to life and later on develop Cushing’s or other chronic illnesses that help them leave that bit quicker if left untreated.
For our Shiraz, letting her be a horse unimpeded by human agendas or beliefs, was one of her key requests. So off she was sent up into the Wicklow mountains, four fields away from where I live now. And there she spent a full summer running with a herd & only that.
As no other demands were put upon her.
She had access to freedom, family & forage. The three key ingredients needed to help a horse be sound of body & mind. We also added in sacred botanicals, she worked with flower essences throughout those months that I made up for her.
To right the wrongs humans had done to her in her younger days and she has never looked back! The autumn of that year she was put back into gentle training. Shirazy girl turned into the best jumper they ever had. And they are so glad they believed in her, rather than give up at the first hurdle she set for them.
She’s still one to watch around other horses.
As a boss mare her spirit was not broken by my work, rather it was healed. So she still plays a lead role within her herd of seven horses today. We just make sure to remove her back shoes!
And for those of you who read my previous blog on Forty at the end of his life, and the role Shiraz played in supporting him – she’s doing really well on that front also.
Yes she grieved his passing.
And threw out an abscess in her foot when they put her back into work some months afterwards. I was called in once again to listen to her message in that.
You see an abscess can represent things like fermenting thoughts over hurts. And foot problems can be an unwillingness to move forward in life. Therefore Shiraz was asking for help to mourn Forty in a healthy way through this condition. And selected more of my sacred botanicals to work with, that she knows so so well at this stage.
And one thing I love to do with her now?
I’m not a fancy super experienced horse trainer or rider for that matter, but I do speak horse. So she encourages me to hand walk her and not feel frightened by her reputation as a hot mare. But instead to walk alongside her in friendship as I once did with our beloved Forty. And in those moments I feel totally held by her great heart, as we think on him together. As we mind one another in his absence.
And this dear reader is the story of Shiraz & calming a challenged horse. Whom Forty fell in love with, that was once deeply misunderstood & has now become my firm friend.
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