Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On The Couch

Sometimes I feel like an animal psychotherapist.  So often, something magical happens after a consultation, just because I've made a heartfelt effort to deeply listen to an animal's complaints, concerns, or fears, and sincerely acknowledge them.  Those fears might seem silly or inconvenient, but I take them seriously.  And in doing so, I've honored and respected the animal I'm talking to, letting her know that she has a right to her feelings, whatever others might think.

This is what happened with Maggie, a magnificent Hanoverian mare with whom I've had the privilege of communicating on several occasions over the course of more than a year.  Maggie is a brave and talented eventer, and it takes a lot to scare her.  But of late, she'd been showing signs of stress when she was turned out in a large, lush pasture bordered by tall trees and woods.  Rather than relaxing in this green paradise, Maggie had been anxiously pacing the fence, as if begging to come in.  No one knew why.  To our human minds, it made no sense.

When I connected with Maggie, I mentally put myself into her body to see what it felt like to be out there in the expansive grassy paddock, alone.  I could immediately feel her sense of vulnerability:  there was something unseen looming in the woods beyond the field and Maggie worried that it might spring forth to pounce on her.  A hawk flew overhead:  it, too, felt like a threatening presence in a wide open place where there was no place to hide.

I let Maggie know that I understood why she might feel worried, and gently suggested that she had the power to flee, to run if danger should appear.  She said she might be happier in a smaller pen, closer to the barn, and I passed that on to her dear person, Polly.

That was yesterday.  This morning, Polly sent me this photo of Maggie happily grazing out in the big field alone, showing no signs of care or stress.  Same field, same woods, but something had shifted.  There may be many explanations for Maggie's new-found feeling of comfort in her surroundings, but I believe that as soon as she knew her fears were validated, she let them go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know that after you communicated with Teddy, my dog, he was so much more peaceful. You provided a bridge of communication and love between me and my beloved pet on his last day.