Family Dynamics & Problem Horses

How many of us have been in a situation where we are deeply connected to a horse, and the horse is asking for our help, yet we don’t own the horse? And the owner of the horse sees things very differently from the way we do… then what do you do?

Reader Story: I am new to your YouTube channel and website. I recently acquired two horses, never owning a horse ever, and I am desperately attempting to listen to their energy and connect with them on a spiritual level to help them and myself!

My brother-in-law has been a sheep owner and farmer for about 20 years now, and has never owned horses himself, but knew my daughter and I loved them, tremendously. So he purchased our first horse from a sale barn and brought it home for my daughter in January, and she is around a year old filly.

She is blind in one eye, very underweight, and came to us with lots of bald spots all over her coat. It looks like she had caught on fire, but may have worn it off from rubbing against something at her last home. Her hair is now growing back a bit, and she is putting on weight quickly, but still very obviously emotionally damaged, and I am still trying to gain her trust.

The other horse is part Arabian, female, and looks to be under 10 years old. We’ve had her a week today. She may be older, but is very dominant and bossy, pushy with everyone, even with me. As if she is testing me. She is pushy, and always seems to try and scare me, she acts like she would bite me if I got right below her head and neck to meditate. But that is my next step with them.

Last evening though, my brother-in-law decided we should take them out of the barn for a short walk through the side yard, even though I suggested it was too early. As I said, he only really knows sheep, not horses, though he claims he is a professional at these things. He has also been the owner of three donkeys over the past year, but they are kept in a front pasture, separate from the horses right now.

But, as I was saying, he probably never anticipated them getting as crazy as they did, he figured they’d both be so happy to be out and eating grass for a change. He brought the adult female out first, and she was not reacting the way I anticipated, but he proceeded, he then took the filly out, and when he did successfully get her out of the barn, he encouraged me to stand my ground and not let her lead or dominate me.

He handed her off to me, and she was just as jumpy and spooked by the sheep behind us, and the donkeys in front of us, she couldn’t stay focused on eating grass for longer than a few minutes, and I was just as anxious and nervous as both her and the other, dominant horse!! I too have terrible fear and anxiety, deep resentment and guilt, lots of emotional trauma, and I feel I am meant to be their caregiver, keeper, and friend.

But back to them, to make a long story short, the filly wound up dragging me about 5 or 10 feet, right beneath her feet, rope around my waist and wrapped around my hand. Luckily, I was not hurt, other than a small bruise on my upper arm. My brother-in-law praised me for never letting go of her, as he insisted she would never respect me if she was able to get away from me and know she is stronger than I am. I was very proud of myself in that moment and felt I had taken us a step in the right direction, but I dearly love those horses, at a deep, unconditional level, and I have recently expressed my desire to bond with, and connect with each of them, individually, to develop a deeper relationship with them than just leader human, who punishes them when they won’t listen and perform for me.

I never had intentions of riding either of them, although my borther-in-law has different plans. He is quite rough and knows nothing about the spiritual connection between humans and horses, or any animal for that matter. And I can’t convince him otherwise, so I demanded that I be their only caregiver, from the beginning and here on out. He has plans of hiring a trainer for them, but I am trusting that I can convince him they need emotional healing and free roaming space, to become happier, and that a traditional trainer is not the answer for these poor, damaged, sacred creatures.

I still am not sure of what the adult female endured at her previous home, but she seems to me like she was a fair or circus horse who was mistreated and overused, and now has lots of anger and trust issues. Jini, I am totally at a loss for what to do for them at a deeper level, to make them feel less afraid, less damaged, and that I will never harm them, or abandon them, and want them to thrive and heal, with me.

When we got these horses, I thought their everyday basic needs and care, was the most important thing I needed to tackle. I read webpage after webpage of articles on their diet, body language, hoof care, grooming, dental care, down to their spine being out of alignment. I knew they were very emotional animals, but I never knew I could communicate and meditate with them, and all of us bond and heal. When I found your channel, I knew that was the absolute only option for my horses.

How do I start this process?? I am now checking my posture and body sensations and deep breathing a few minutes before I even enter the barn each morning and throughout the day and evening. I try to keep my energy in an unconditional love, steady flow. And try to focus on them only. I tried to sit on the ground tonight in front of their feeders and a small fence between me and them, and as always, the dominant one acted like she was going to bite me or pull my hat off, to bite my forehead or face, whatever she could get ahold of.

What should my approach be from here? What should I do next? Am I trying too hard or too quickly? I am so desperate for relief for them, and for my own peace of mind. Thank you, for your videos, and your beautiful stories of true hope. I have gained so much comfort from them.

Jini: Kesia has a mare that sounds very similar to your Morgan, so I think this wonderful article of hers will be very illuminating for you.

The other aspect that really jumps out at me from your email is that, if I were you, the FIRST thing I would do is to purchase the horse(s) from your brother-in-law. And maybe this can be done through a work exchange, rather than money (if money is tight). But you need to either have the ownership in writing, or a witness to your verbal agreement (your husband perhaps). And then you will probably have to pay for their food.

My horses have made me aware how VERY important ownership is to them and their safety/security. Perhaps they are just reading the power cords and they know that ‘ownership’ means the power cord goes from them to the legal owner. I’m not sure how they view it, but I know they see it, they know it, and legal ownership is very important to them.

It is also very important to humans – because whoever is the legal owner of the horses, that is who has final say over EVERYTHING. When push comes to shove, you will see this happen over and over again. So you may just be setting yourself up for failure.

Perhaps the mare is pushy because she wants you to stand in your power? And please do not ignore your intuition that she will bite you! She is probably sending you pictures of that to warn you. We must release our own agenda and BE in the moment and respond to what IS – not what we hope for, or what we think should be.

And if there’s no way you can/will take legal ownership for these horses, then you just need to be congruent (honest) about that. Tell the horses the truth and tell yourself the truth – if you are refusing to tell the truth to yourself, that makes horses very agitated and they likely will hurt you. Because they ARE congruent. If the energy is manky, or tense, or unstable, then their physical expression will reflect that.

They may be quite content with your brother-in-law’s ways – because he is congruent. So they know what he is capable of, and they know what to expect. Yes they may shut down or hide parts of themselves, because there’s no room or space for sentience, but they will likely be happier then being pulled back and forth between two poles. I hear you can’t bully donkeys, so maybe he actually knows more than you think. Or maybe the horses will teach him?

But again, until you get clear on whose horses these are, you’re making it very difficult for the horses to find their place in their new world. And you’re making it very difficult for yourself to offer an alternative, or to find a new pathway with them.

So please read Kesia’s post, and you will notice the advice Amalia gave her, regarding where the real work needed to be done, and where she needed to start. It sounds like your mare is sending you a similar message. Sending you love and hugs as we remember that it is through these difficult times that we are also given the opportunity to move further towards wholeness.

Family Dynamics & Problem Horses

5 thoughts on “Family Dynamics & Problem Horses

  • May 10, 2020 at 8:12 am
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    Dear reader….what an amazing path you are on! Horses are the best teachers on the planet! IMO it takes a lot of time for horses that have good associations with humans to adjust to change in environment….and settle in! ….so horses that have had negative interactions with humans it takes even longer! Time is definitely going to be what is needed! Lots of time and patience! I am helping my neighbor with a horse that was handled very rough in the first 4 years of his life! He was leg roped and shod against his will and I am trying to show him humans can be different and take all the time it takes to help him feel better about hoof handling! We are going on a year! He also has a hard time going outside his living area! He can handle very very short distances alone but does way better when the mare he lives with goes too! Like I said he is my neighbors horse so I only spend a few times a month with him and the owner is not as engaged as I would have hoped for so progress is very slow…which for almost all things considered is ideal…but hooves can be a problem? Especially for him as his are very wonky…probably from being shod so very young🥺! I am trying to listen to him and only do what he asks and we have come far on the fronts but it’s hard for my human brain to go as slow as he needs because I start to feel like I am neglecting his best interest?
    Anyway slow and steady is the best approach! Especially for the young one! Let her come to you as time goes by ….like Jini has with her herd and the two newerish youngins!

    This next bit might not be everybody’s approach and some may have way better ideas but I would personally carry some sort of extension of your arm..(.a whip might not be a good choice as she might relate it to very bad trauma? My neighbors horse definitely does) if you want or need to go in there area! Tell the older mare verbally that you will not approach her and that if she allows you space then you will not get in her space! If she does come at you …I believe …like Jini said …that she is asking you to stand in your power! Our newest family member (although going on two years) Buck is definitely here to show me new levels of standing in my power! Try not to associate it with negative thoughts & It’s not about being dominant! Its about owning your own space and self, especially if there is forceful energy coming at you!

    Arabs are very close to my heart and I think some of them can be like a comment I read about Catahoula dogs…they need consistent fair energy! Although I realize this applies to most souls! They especially will not tolerate being man handled and will turn on you if they feel threatened or mistreated!
    Dreamer is Arab and the most beautiful kind soul, you could ever want to be around….
    but if I were to treat him roughly or unfairly for any situation….I have no doubt he would eventually turn on me…because he would find it very unjust! To where as Bullet is more of a shutter downer😔
    Dreamer is a soft highly sensitive soul and he expects to be treated that way! As he should! He completely understands me having to be firm once in awhile about certain things at certain times, but that does not equate to being mean, rude, impatient or rough or having energy that does not match the situation! We have such an amazing give and receive relationship that he knows it’s not one sided and I can feel his understanding and deep connection to me at all times! Even when it has to be my way! Like being kept off the green grazing when his laminitis flares because he’s IR!
    On the rare (gratefully) occasion I mess up and do something unfair, his look is undeniable and he will let me know he is not happy with my mistake! I will also apologize and let him know I F’ddd up….and to please forgive me! But also on that note horses are the best at letting it go and forgiving! It’s one of the biggest lessons I have learned from them…
    FORGIVENESS & PATIENCE=PEACE

    With the horses I have had experience with …again like Jini said …they need congruent energy…and can even relax once shown they can not intimidate you! They seem to find a lot of peace in knowing that you are strong and can have there backs if needed? Buck does this to me frequently even though at his core …he is the most big lovely boy! He also does this with his herd mates! Then he settles and calms and you can see it comforts him! One horse person I watch and learn from has an expression “Dominance addicted” I know it sounds sad…but I have found with Buck I take it for what it is…and all the while keep letting him know we can find peace together without dominance! We came together when he was eight and you can tell he was trained with the usual Dominance horse training! We keep walking the path of teaching each other different ways to have horse-human interactions! We both release and yawn and lick and chew a lot! You will find each horse is in your life to teach you something different or about different levels! Trust your intuition and as always LTYH! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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    • May 10, 2020 at 11:30 pm
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      Speaking of the two younguns… I let them in to the back fields for the first time this summer and we all went back there together, across the creek. Well Posa was so jacked she had her tail flipped up/over like a pure Arab and she kept charging me! That’s just the spontaneous route her supercharged energy took – let’s play “chicken” with Jini LOL. And again, it’s all about energy 🙂

      Reply
  • May 10, 2020 at 2:36 pm
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    My “project” horse has come a long way in five years; learning to trust and respect, overcoming biting, nervous stomach, etc.. Recently we had what I believe is a meaningful breakthrough. The change had nothing to do with Diego and everything to do with me. I decided that I did not have to “fix” him. I chose to love him unconditionally – for just being himself. I stopped being afraid of being bitten. I decided it would be alright with me if I never sat on his back. I started asking him where he’d like me to touch him. I stopped calling him (and all the horses) and started “thinking” to them and asking them mentally to come to the gate in their own time – no treats. Diego is paying attention and showing me he is listening and appreciating the new approach. Communication with everyone seems clearer. I’m experimenting with this; opening more to intuition. It feels good and can only get better!

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    • May 10, 2020 at 11:34 pm
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      BRILLIANT Denise! I love everything you’ve written here. Often the “aggressive” horse is simply the “highly sensitive” horse and WE need to tone ourselves WAY down. I love the way Diego is relieved you’re using thoughts – a spoken voice is probably almost obnoxious to him (why are you yelling??). Xadaa is very much that way. And her sensitivities are heightened by a pelvic injury at birth – as we unravel/release that foundational trauma, her nervous system is softening and releasing right along with it.

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  • May 12, 2020 at 6:02 am
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    My twelveth year, when a child, was the best because that was when I met and was twinned with Echo, a beautiful, nervous, dabble gray American Saddle Bred owned by a neighbor. The social pattern in my family was one of abruptive violence and here, quite mysteriously, was a relationship being built on love and trust. Echo taught me so much but she wasn’t ‘mine’. In my thirteenth year she was torn abruptly from my life. It is only with your story that I see that Echo and I were meant to be together for that time and that I should reflect on our time together not on the day she was taken out of my life. I tried to replicate the union with another horse that I bought but I didn’t feel the same connection. Ahhh, different horse, different relationship. That horse, Rip-off, had other lessons to teach me….more about standing in my power as she stood in hers. The message I want to bring across is that if I immerse myself in the present moment, if I listen, then no matter the circumstances, I have a much better opportunity to receive ‘the message’. Ownership is a term that I dislike; relationship is ‘the bomb! However, we buy horses and if we haven’t spent the money, we have no right in the possession, horse. But, there are many different ways to invest … like buying a bale of hay or bringing an apple or carrot to sweeten the day or pay for the right piece of equipment or finding the right vet or furrier. And, here is where the investment comes in…… I knew I did not own Echo and I knew her owner held all the power over us and I took the time to develop a strong relationship with that horse anyway. And she rewarded me by teaching me body language….that warmth of body, that ripple of muscle, that stance, those ears, eyes, mouth, a gentle push….. She taught me to stand in my power when we came across a particularly vicious dog or when she was frightened, when I felt her tense up, and I calmly showed her that I saw what scared her and I communicated that there was no reason to fear and she relaxed. There is nothing like that kind of relationship! So, I see and understand this dynamic of loving both the horse and the owner and being at odds with some of the practices of the owner. My response is for you to take this time without expectation but rather, enjoy the moments as they unfold. Sit in your time with this horse and ask why were you brought into his/her life? What do you each offer the other? Speak from your heart and then ‘see’. The answers maybe supple, we humans are so demonstrative, some horses are not, except when they are😊 Be peace, Claudia

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