The next step of our cribbing journey

Timmy learning to trust that he will be listened to…

Over the summer Timmy and I have done quite a few sessions together where we have shared being in the present moment with each other. For him this is a huge step in trusting humans.

We have released a level of trauma, a level of frustration and anger at humans, and acknowledged that he gets a little anxious around food which can lead to the cribbing habit.

Today we took another step forward in our trust relationship.

In the majority of my previous sessions with Timmy I have refocused him gently when he cribs, in order to enable him to not completely block out the feeling of being peaceful that I am sharing with him. We got to a place where he recognises the feeling and he even starts to go a little peaceful as soon as I put his head collar on. He relates the head collar to a session of being peaceful now rather than ‘doing something’.

We are now developing our conversation. I am now asking him to be peaceful and still with me, to be completely ‘here and now’, join me in the present where there is no drama and no stories based on the past. You will see in the video that I start by asking him to come into the present moment with me and he starts to relax, but then he has to go and crib. Weirdly this is a wonderful place for us now because what this is telling me is that he is now recognising the shared present moment feeling, but he is able to say ‘I can’t be peaceful at the moment because I feel anxious and I need to crib’. Previously he would have then gone to crib and gone into a catatonic state which would have been difficult to bring him back from because his thinking levels would have been too high.

You can see in the video that there is a level of consideration going on within him when he is cribbing. He is acknowledging my presence and the feeling he is getting from me. He is cribbing, yes, but he is in a learning frame of mind which is allowing him to consider his options. The first cribbing session is on and off but quite long. The second time is a few cribs and then he decides to be peaceful. After doing this twice he then doesn’t return to cribbing. He goes into a more peaceful place, relaxed and slow blinking. At this level it is then possible to have a conversation. In the Trust Technique we call this Mindful Regard, where we ask the horse to be peaceful, and then regard them, asking them to either be peaceful or tell us why they can’t through their behaviours. Eventually, with practice, you can start to feel what they are sharing before they show you. You will notice in the video that I look at his girth area at one point. I just got this feeling that there was something about this area of his body. Then he turned his nose and showed me that area by rubbing it briefly. It was a very different rub to pushing a fly off, or itching the area. Subtle differences when watching behaviours, but add in the feeling you get that the horse has shared and you have the story.

Timmy shared with me an anxiety around his girth area. This could be down to a number of things – maybe his boundaries were severely crossed when the saddle and girth were introduced to him when he was young, who knows. He associates a feeling of anxiety with this area which he then internalises.

We had the conversation in feeling terms. He showed me why he couldn’t be peaceful right now. I listened and acknowledged that. He felt he had been listened to and he acknowledged that with licking and chewing. He then went back to a peaceful place and I went with him. There was nothing else today that he wanted to share and he went right down into a sleep state which allowed him to release another bit of anxiety that has built up over the years.

I am very proud of him.

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