Looking at limitations and boundaries with Querida

Querida was up first to the shelters and it was a cool morning, so I thought it would be great to have a little peace time with her and see where the conversation led.

In the last couple of weeks we have shared a lot of feelings. Mostly anger, frustration, annoyance, stubbornness, and feelings of being restricted. Querida has been breaking my fences and I have been repairing. She is getting into fields she shouldn’t be in, and this brings up her pulses and the laminitis flares up. At times I have got so cross with her seeming self destruction mood that I have literally dragged her back out of the field in annoyance. Querida then gets stubborn, ignoring me, and not moving, because I am not asking in a nice way and we just keep on spiralling. It is even worse when this all happens in the middle of the afternoon when it is scorching hot!. When we get to this point neither of us are listening to each other anymore. It just becomes a battle of wills and is very unpeaceful. So we both needed some down time to find a level of peace and have a conversation.

At first when I went into the present moment of non-thinking or reacting. She could not relax into it and reacted by walking away a lot, although I tried to stay anchored. (Funnily enough I have found the bigger the horse the easier it is to stay anchored. The ponies seem to have a way of getting more leverage so they end up dragging me around!). Slowly though we both relaxed into a place of peace and could start to have a conversation.

These conversations with Querida are always interesting and I should do them more often. She has a way of expressing herself which really tells me how she feels about things, but also she has an amazing ability to mirror me and tell me what I need to work on to find my peace. It was only when we both got into the present moment that we could both start to sense where our un-peace lay.

Laminitis is something that has to be managed, like diabetes or allergies in humans. The management though can feel like boundaries sometimes; limitations and restrictions if thought about as a way of controlling rather than helping.

Many times the way we interpret an animals behaviour (which is a reaction to a feeling) is the way we feel. They mirror back the feelings we share with them in their behaviour. It is not necessarily their feelings we need to interpret, but our own. This can be difficult to do sometimes as we have to first acknowledge that these feelings are ours. This is what happened with me and Querida today.

When I was able to get peaceful enough she reflected my feelings back. When I was able to detach myself from my thoughts I realised I had been feeling like limitations were being imposed on me in many areas and I had been reacting to them by either getting angry or frustrated, or feeling like I needed to justify something.

The course I am doing (Trust Technique Practitioner Diploma) has bought up these feelings while I wait for my assessment, as their are limits on what I can do for people / animals other than my own, until I am given the go ahead to move forward with the next level. But, once I acknowledged this I could sense that there was no reason to feel angry or frustrated with these limitations. They are there for a reason. Part of the learning on the course is to acknowledge these types of feelings and release them as they are just unnecessary anxieties. They are linked to the past and the future, and are not in the present. The present is about being where I am now.

It was only when Querida reflected my feelings back to me and I regarded my own feelings and the reasons for them, that I could start to get peaceful with them and change the reaction (anger and frustration) to a response (accept where we are as it is exactly as it should be). If I hadn’t changed the reaction I would still be going around and around the spiral attracting the limitations and boundaries.

I don’t think I appreciate enough how sensitive Querida is to my feelings and how strongly she reflects them back. She takes a lot of responsibility for my feelings and I need to acknowledge that more with her and be grateful she is with me to show me.

How does all this relate to managing laminitis? Managing laminitis and insulin resistance is about restrictions, limitations and boundaries :

  • Restricting grazing
  • Restricting hay
  • Muzzling
  • Making sure there is enough movement
  • etc.

It is also about acknowledging and understanding that laminitis is chronic. Once the ponies or horses have had it once it becomes a highly sensitive physical reaction to many things. To get through an entire year without a flare up (however mild), which would enable hooves to really recover and strengthen, could only really be done at the expense of the animals emotional health. (And I say animal because sheep, and cows both suffer with laminitis – next time you walk past a field full of sheep being fattened up for the meat market, notice how many are limping).

Accepting it all and working in the moment is key to managing laminitis. Put boundaries and limitations in place, but with the right intention. Know that muzzles are key to restricting grazing. Know that boots are key to helping movement. Know that electric fences are a must. And know that being peaceful with every idea is a requirement. None of these ideas are limiting, controlling or restricting until they are thought of that way. This is why Querida has been breaking my fences; I kept seeing the fences as a means of controlling and limiting, rather than a way of helping her be healthy. Change the intention. Change the response.

My intention is to manage the physical health of the animal without damaging the emotional health. A balance that has to be considered at all times. When we put in limitations and boundaries as a means of control we are not respecting the emotional health of the animal. It is like locking an alcoholic in a cage and placing the cage in a wine cellar so he can see it but can’t reach it. You may stop the drinking, but what comes out of the cage will be a very traumatised person.

Be comfortable with where you are on the journey with your laminitic. Always respect the emotions while helping the physical, and listen to the animal. They know what you need to know better than you do. When we remove our own limitations there are always balanced solutions.

He spoke of very simple things–It is right for a gull to fly; that freedom is the very nature of his being; that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.”

From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach

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