For readers and followers who may not know, we adopted a horse last spring that our niece rescued. She did a great job of fattening Amigo up and ground training him over the five months she had him. When he arrived at our home, I attempted a technique developed by world-renowned horse trainer, Monty Roberts, called “Join-Up” to develop a trusting relationship between Amigo and me. Simply put, Join-Up utilizes horse communication and herd behavior to develop a willing working relationship between horse and trainer. I have read about and seen Join-Up for many times over the years and was fortunate to experience it for the first time last spring.
Things went great over the summer and into the fall. Amigo’s gentle demeanor and trusting nature made grooming a breeze and a visit from the farrier who clips Amigo’s hooves trouble-free. When the dogs and I took our morning romps in the pasture, Amigo usually strolled to me to say hello then either ignored the dogs or allowed them to chase him.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a change. Amigo trotted towards me with his head high in an aggressive posture. He bucked and kicked at the dogs before galloping off for the chase to begin. At first, I attributed his behavior on the cooler weather and refused to believe he wanted to hurt the dogs. When following me, Amigo began pushing and nipping and ran off bucking and kicking when I pushed him away. I became wary of walking in the pasture. My sweet Palomino gelding somehow transformed into a domineering and dangerous
stallion seemingly overnight.
As I tried to analyze what had transpired with Amigo, I realized his behavior coincided when I was in the depths of depression. A seemingly endless flare-up of CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia. I lost control of my so many parts of my life – my web of life was in tatters.
My brain was in a constant fog, sleep remained elusive, and neither meds nor yoga/qi gong stretches eased the aches and pains. Now my horse whom I took such pride in developing a bond was turning on me. One of the few pleasant moments of my day, walking my dogs in the morning, became a frightening anxiety-filled experience.
I was not sure if the problem was me or Amigo until a particularly scary moment when I thought I could ‘manage’ Amigo and groom him alone in the pasture. It almost turned dangerous for me after I tied Amigo to the fence and I began grooming him. He suddenly pushed me against the fence and was readying to kick me when I pushed back and he pulled against the rope until he freed himself. While I defused Amigo’s anger, trembled with fear. Driving home from work, my husband saw our stand-off. He climbed the fence, walked to Amigo and took the lead rope dangling from his halter.
It was at that moment, my husband and horse together, when I realized that I transferred my emotional energy to Amigo. He was either uncomfortable or taking advantage of my vulnerability. And that realization brought me back to my senses. I needed to start from scratch with Amigo. Instead of managing him, I needed to invite him to Join-Up with me again and rebuild our relationship. The change in my medications were finally starting to work well and my pain was decreasing as my quality of sleep was improving.
It is time to strengthen my Web of Life.
I rely more heavily on my support system these days and believe that this experience is another valuable life lesson for me.
Amigo and I are doing the dance and rebuilding our relationship. I am grateful to him for waking me up to my shortcomings and for not hurting me or my dogs in the process.