Flight, Fright, Fears, Flowers & Relationships
by Barbara Volk ©2009
snakedauter @ earthlink.net
As horse owners, we will always be dealing with the issues of
flight, fright and fears. Horses, as we all know are prey animals with an
instinct to flee at the first sign of perceived danger.
We humans, being predators, but with a large mental capacity,
can develop an intellectual knowledge of the flight instinct through observation
and experience. While I believe that we cannot truly understand what it is
like, on the deepest level, to be a prey animal, I think that if we can recognize
fear in the horse and learn to understand what it comes from, we can do something
Flower Remedies are one tool that we can use in our Holistic
approach to developing a state of equilibrium within our horse & human
relationship. The essences will help to relieve deep-seated mental and emotional
fears in our horses and ourselves. They will not however replace the daily
work required for a healthy relationship with your horse.
The first step before ever even considering a flower remedy
for fear issues is to be sure that your horse is not experiencing any kind
of pain. Where there is pain, there is fear. Remember that because they are
prey, a horse that shows weakness from pain, in their mind, is likely to be
someone's' dinner. They hide their pain very well and by the time they allow
us to see the signs, their discomfort is considerable.
So if you have a horse that is having fear problems, begin with
a thorough vet check/health exam, including nutritional analysys, chiropractic,
dental and podiatry. Once you are sure there is no pain, we can move on to
mental and emotional issues.
A very important thing to remember is that horses are aware
of things that our senses cannot even begin to be conscious of. I can't emphasize
enough that you must pay attention to what your horse is telling you in every
How do you determine what your horse's fears are?
Do you know your horses' history? Try to acquire as much detail
as possible. I believe that horses have very long memories, and that some
of those memories, abuse and neglect being all too common examples, can come
back to haunt them.
Consider your own fears. Our horses will reflect our mental
and emotional states back to us.
Careful observation is the key to deciding which flower remedy
or combination is the best choice. It is good to take notes each day and compare
them over the course of a minimum of one week.
How much time does your horse spend in a stall? How much turn
out does he have, how large is his turn out area and does he have other equine
How does he react when you first approach him? How does he react
when other people and other horses approach him?
How does he respond to desensitizing routines?
Is he head shy? Can you touch him all over? How does he behave
when you pick up his feet? This is very important because when you pick up
a horses foot you are putting the horse in a most vulnerable position.
Are there specific situations or objects that cause a fearful
Do some groundwork with your horse, simple excesrizes like walk-stop-back
up, again paying very close attention to what he is telling you, and again
keeping notes. A round pen is better for this because some horses are so conditioned
to the halter that you can get false indications, and in the RP, at liberty,
you can get a much better idea of how well you communicate with your horse,
and whether you understand what your horse is telling you.
A misunderstanding in communication or lack of consistency on
your part can also elicit a fearful response. You need to be very sure that
what your mind thinks you are asking your horse to do is what you are really
asking. The horses understanding of body language is so far beyond what we
verbal humans can truly relate to, that we must diligent in noticing what
our body language is saying to our horses.
The Flowers for Fears
This is one of the flowers in rescue remedy. It is used for
emergency situations that seem hopeless. For fears related to sudden illness
where the horse is frightened and where the people or other animals around
are also frightened. Where there is hysteria or a panic situation such as
rearing where others could be in danger.
In this type of situation you must remain calm. Here is an example
of something that you can't fix while it is happening. You must simply defuse
the situation and restore calm. Your goal is to keep this kind of event from
As part of your regular routine, teach your horse to drop his
head. Do this using a rope halter. Apply gentle steady pressure with just
your thumb and forefinger at the join of the halter and lead. The instant
the horses' head drops the slightest bit release the pressure. Literally let
go of the halter. Wait 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Practice this until your
horse drops his head to the ground with just slight pressure to the halter.
Why does this calm a horse? I have heard it said that it releases endorphins,
and it is the grazing position. A horse with his nose to the grass is a horse
that feels safe and calm.
This is the remedy for fear of known things. For the horse that
is afraid of shadows, gates, dogs, saddles, having feet trimmed, being clipped,
crossing bridges etc. for the horse that is timid it will help him find courage.
Look for flaring nostrils, blowing and restless pacing.
Here is the situation where desensitization comes into play.
Most horses that have 24/7 turn out have the opportunity to get used to many
scary things, but even these animals may not have enough variety
to develop the casual attitude that we desire.
A horse in a stall has very little occasion to experience different
objects and often the initial response to anything new is fear.
When introducing new items whether in a round pen or on the
lead, always let the horse make the first decision to investigate. If he feels
he needs to retreat, allow it. At some point he will decide it is no big deal,
will probably nose at it and might even pick it up and play with it.
I prefer this method to sacking out, where the horse
is not given a choice in the matter. The long -term effect of sacking out
will result in a desensitized horse, but it will undermine his trust in you.
You can easily create situations around your barn that your
horse must encounter on a daily basis. Hang plastic grocery bags and aluminum
pie plates where they will flap in the wind (only in an open and safe situation
where no one can get injured). Keep a tarp over the fence where your horse
has daily turn out and sometimes throw it on the ground, walk around it and
If you trail ride on multi-use trails, have a field day. Invite,
hikers, bicyclists, and ATV users. Teach them about how horses respond to
unknown things and give your horse an opportunity to meet these predators.
This essence is for vague and unknown fears. Aspen is the best
flower for the spooky horse. There seems to be no explanation,
just a feeling that something might happen and for feelings of distress and
anxiousness that you simply can't pinpoint. Look for cowering, sweating, and
trembling as indications.
Use this essence for the high- strung horse that refuses to
do what is asked providing that there is no miscommunication.
With this horse you must gain his trust. Because there is no
specific source of focus for his fear, he must trust you enough to turn to
you in any given situation, rather than relying on his instincts.
The inside turn is about trust. Work in the round pen to get consecutive, consistent and willing inside turns.
Worry and fear for others is the indication for this remedy.
This is the remedy for the horse who is overly protective of her baby, or
a companion and who will worry when his companion is gone. Often horses will
pick up this fear from their owners.
Separation anxiety can be a common experience for herd animals,
and this is another situation where earning your horses trust is important.
Once that is established, spend time gradually separating the horse from his
object of worry.
Each time the horse returns and finds his companion safe; the memory that everything is OK begins to be established.
This is the flower for lack of self-confidence or the spacey
air head horse and for a horse that hesitates in making decisions. A
lack of self-confidence will cause a horse to not be able to make decisions
for itself, which sometimes may be important. Cerato can also be used for
the horse that has a lack of social behavior.
All of the above activities will help to develop self-confidence.
However, in our quest for better relationship with our horses,
people are too often having one-sided conversations, always telling the horse
what to do. Please remember to allow your horse to actively participate in
This flower lives up to its name. It is the essence for a horse
that is easily annoyed and intolerant. The horse, who won't stand still for
saddling or mounting, pushes through gates, rushes back to the barn and eats
too quickly, is an impatiens horse. These horses tend to always be in a hurry
and therefore often make mistakes. Impatiens is also a great remedy for you
when you are feeling impatient with your horse.
Impatiens is another of the flowers in rescue remedy.
Our horses can learn to be patient with us. After all, even
the most intolerant horse will stand quietly while munching grass.
In the round pen, ask your horse to walk quietly on the rail and stop. Some horses have a hard time slowing down. This is where your patience comes into play. This also is where you come to understand how well you communicate. If he refuses to slow down, it is very likely that you are putting too much pressure on him.
Once you have a nice quiet walk, ask for a stop. When you get
the stop turn away and walk to the other side of the RP. If he moves go back
to work and make him move faster. Slow things down again, and repeat this
process until your horse will stand quietly as long as he is asked to.
Flower essences can be combined, but I prefer, when possible, to use a single remedy, and to target as specific an issue as possible. You will often find that as an essence begins to have an effect, the first layers (the most superficial) of mental and emotional imbalance will be relieved and the deeper issues will then come to the surface. As each layer is released, the horse will develop a greater state of equilibrium. You will find that this is also true in the process that you and your horse experience in learning from each other.
Flower therapy is not a quick fix. To use them and achieve results you must be committed to the time it takes for healing to occur, considering how many of the fears we are trying to resolve took a long time to develop. The time and manner of healing is different with every animal and every person. The effort is well worth the final result of mental and emotional balance, which will contribute to a more fulfilled and overall sense of well being for you and your horse in relationship.
©2009 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.
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