By: Deb Kitchenmaster

Horses enrich our lives and provide opportunities to open our hearts. So I want to share a story that I heard recently about a horse who had previously been owned by a young blind boy.

This boy and horse were completely devoted to each other. The horse was patient and attentive to this boy, giving the child the gift of freedom. For unknown reasons the boy had to sell his horse. The new owners had questions on how to safely connect with this horse. There in its new environment, she stood with her head down in a corner of her stall; depressed, aggressive, and misunderstood. Two options came to mind. One, to put her down or call for help. A call was made. Observing the horse’s facial definitions, eyes, ears, and swirls (swirls on horses are the equine equivalent of fingerprints on humans, they are like stamps marking each unique identity), the handler knew the behavior of the horse was not in alignment with its personality. This gal decided to put the horse on a longe line. A longe line measures from 25 to 35 feet long to enable the handler to ask the horse to travel in a comfortably sized circle. Almost immediately, the handler was attacked by the horse, with neck snaked out and ears pinned to its head. Previously, the horse had been whipped for such behavior, but because the handler understood the importance of identifying each horse separately and understood personality traits by swirl patterns, she restrained from force and simply stood her ground. When the horse saw she didn’t scare, charging stopped. Her behavior was a reaction to the whip. Once the whip was put away, she was a joy to handle and to ride.

Horses have emotions too. When our focus is not just on riding but on connecting, on partnering, her loneliness must be acknowledged, but how?  Time and touch. Spending time with her in the stable and paying extra attention to her. Helping her realize that though she missed her old friend, new humans were also there for her. She proved to be an amazing horse. She was able to be ridden with only a stiff rope around her neck, which gave her a feeling of trust and freedom.

Magic? No. This came through understanding the horse’s personality. This horse was the kind of horse who would do anything for you, if only one would choose to relate to her as an intelligent being. See, she had been treated by her previous owner as an individual, not just a horse. Her sense of herself had strongly taken root inside her, therefore she was unwilling to cooperate with people she did not know or with someone she had not formed a bond with. Immediately, her response to domination or punishment was aggressive resistance!

When a horse, or a human, is misunderstood, there is one out of four directions to go. No. It’s not north, south, east, or west. It is to flee (escape), fight (aggression), freeze (immobilization), or faint (unconsciousness). What is at the root of these four responses? Misunderstanding, fear, and/or pain.

Your hands are powerful. You can be used as weapons on your horse or you can use them for release relaxation, assurance, and healing. You can hurt people with your hands or bring encouragement and healing, support, and provision.

May perfect, unfailing love touch your heart now…TOUCH — Truth Opens Understanding Compassionate Hands.

Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession — a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you, get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. That day’s outcome did an about-face through the touch of love. The touch of LOVE can change the outcome of your horse’s destiny, training, and purpose…and humans, too.