When I grew up trailering a horse meant lots of swearing (from my dad): a fight to the finish that hopefully ended in no one hurt, and a horse somehow forced into a trailer. In Natural LIfemanship we don’t do things this way! Also in Natural Lifemanship we heal prior traumas: both for horses and humans. Today, I realized the impact of those past experiences was continuing to have an influence on me.
We have a 2 year old horse, Raff, who we almost lost a week ago from unexpected blood loss following a minor surgical procedure. The vet made an emergency trip to the farm. With Raff under a LOT of sedation, he removed the stitches, packed the wound, and doubled stitched. The packing was needed to keep pressure on the bleed, but it would need to come out in a procedure at the veterinary clinic.
This “baby” has not been hauled in a trailer as an adult. Since the bleeding seemed to subside with sedation, I became concerned that the stress of riding down the road in the trailer could cause the bleeding to start again. I also was concerned about how she would trailer.
This morning, when I was having trouble controlling my stress, I should have recognized my emotions were being overwhelmed from past trauma. I was experiencing a so called trigger: a situation when “the problem isn’t the problem” that is common for people who have experienced past traumas (often they don’t even have a recollection of the trauma but their autonomic nervous system and body do). Recognizing a “trigger” while triggered takes a lot of practice. I did work on relaxation and calming exercises for my stress.
This afternoon I arrived at the farm determined to keep this situation as stress free for Raff as I could. I figured this was our best chance at success. But I didn’t tell Ron of my plan. He offered to bring Raff in from the pasture and headed out. In my plan she was coming in with all of the horses who would be stalled and be near her for support. Instead Ron came walking through the human walk-in door of the arena. With Raff. No other horses. Eye roll. Not part of my plan: but he didn’t know that. We put her in the round pen, and she quickly started running. At which point I pointed out that this was not calm! But in he went to do the Natural Lifemanship connection work. And she calmed with his supportive presence.
Later we switched and I joined her in the pen. Ron and Christian brought the trailer to the arena door and proceeded to pull cardboard out of it. I was not happy! They were doing things by the trailer that scared her! Now (according to my fear) she would be afraid to get into the trailer. But, again, I used connection work to be supportive of her in her fear and she calmed.
When the trailer was ready (with her supportive friend Rosie loaded in front of her), I took Raff out of the round pen where she has spent the last ½ hour with one or the other of us supporting her in connected relationship. She easily came with me and loaded right into the trailer with no resistance. She got out after the drive, covered in sweat from the stress of the ride, yet she was calm and entered the new vet’s clinic with our lasting connection.
As I reflected on the day, I realized that the overcoming of fears was as a much for me as it was for Raff. Connection. As each of us were faced with a fear and then calmed ourselves in connection with a caring partner, we found release from the fear, and, for me, healing of a trauma. We are created for connection and find healing through it: both for horses and humans. And often both the horse and human experience healing at the same time.
I just never know where our work with Natural Lifemanship will bring healing to me as we work to help others heal also!