May 11, 2012

Bryan Starts His New Life

My projects are horses that have been ridden and treated badly. Note: I do not say ‘abused’. Because though they have been, it has not been in the typical way that people consider ‘abuse’. They’ve not been starved, or whipped, or bled, or tied in chains. They’ve often been dearly loved, well fed, and groomed and shown with pride. But they have been deeply harmed indeed, and it’s been under the guise of ‘training’. They are sore and lame. But worse, since many soreness and lameness problems are fixable with time and the right therapies, is how out of touch with their bodies they are, and how meaningless the ‘aids’ have become to them. They are either over reactive, like Bryan, or non reactive, like Philip, a Selle-Francais gelding that we got at the same time we got The B. And so the rehab process starts with making them aware that their lives with humans now will have cause and effect. They will have choices now that are clear and that will make sense to them.

Another analogy. You are suddenly transported to an alien planet. The inhabitants communicate in ways utterly foreign to you. Their voices and bodies are constantly talking and touching and moving. They put things on you that are not comfortable and they do things you don’t understand. You realize that they are trying to get you to do certain things in response to their sounds and movements. You constantly receive what to you seems like contradictions, in voice, movement, and touch. When you respond in what is apparently the incorrect manner they get loud and you are smacked or punished in some way. Even ones who don’t yell or hit you make you move in ways that are difficult for you, that throw you off balance, and they pull and push you in ways you do not understand. You are continually stressed physically and confused intellectually. If you fight back you really get it. Eventually, you either go lame and crazy, like Bryan, or you shut completely down, like Philip.

But then someone comes along who doesn’t talk a lot or put stuff on you. Their body language makes sense to you. And best of all, when you do the ‘correct’ thing whether by accident or design, they give you a sweet, or something you like, and they soothe and pat you and let you rest and think. They also give you treatments that make your aches and pains go away, and they only use things on you that fit, and make your work easier.

You once again start to take interest in what they do to you. You see that there is cause and effect, and things start to make sense.

And so that’s how we started over, with Bryan.

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