Timmy: Working with the Tiger

I haven’t written for a while as I have been working on improving how I work with ‘Sharing Peace of Mind’, and understanding the different type of reactions that come up when peace cannot be obtained because of loads of other things that are going on that are not allowing peace in. For example pain, or past experiences, or anxieties about the future.

A while back I shared with you how when Timmy is cribbing his thinking levels are very high. It is the introverted version of blind panic. He cannot focus on anything else. He cannot learn. And he cannot find peace of mind because, every time he tries, the past event(s) that gave him so much un-peace start to bubble up to be released, and he can’t cope with that all at once, so he goes back to cribbing. These are my thoughts anyway.

Timmy and I shared a few sessions where we started to acknowledge a level of trauma and he released whatever fear he had of sharing with me how he felt. This was a fantastic level of trust. This also released the tiger; something I at first thought I wasn’t prepared for, but then reconsidered and acknowledged in myself that I had all the tools I needed, to work with the next level. I just needed to stop over thinking. The video shows this afternoons session, which was just over an hour in total. It is a different way of using a head collar and rope to share peace as well. It had two roles. One: to give him something to bite and chew on instead of me or a post; and two every time he had it in his mouth I was putting a feeling of peace into it.

What does Timmy the tiger look like? Behaviourally he is nipping, striking out, walking at me in a dominating way, chasing me if I am on the track in or in the pasture, treating me the same way he treats the mares. There are behaviours I have not seen in him very often, particularly towards me. Also a couple of weeks back he was chasing Risada away while I was trying to get a muzzle on her, so I popped his head collar and lead rope on and loosely tied him to post nearby. For the first time ever (and he has been with me for 10 years now) he pulled back and got himself into quite a panic and luckily I could release him quickly. He has never done that before. There is a lot of feelings and emotions bubbling under the surface. Paradoxically, he is seeking out peace of mind and then, when I offer it, the above behaviour comes up. This is the main thing that is telling me that he wants to find peace with all these feelings but at the moment he can only act them out.

I have spent about a month watching the behaviour, doing short sessions to regard his behaviour and what causes it to come up, but more importantly to regard my own feelings and thoughts and start to work with myself so I can help him. I need to be able to be peaceful whatever happens. I needed to acknowledge that it is likely, when addressing this behaviour, that I will get defensive or fearful, want to get out of his space to protect myself. I needed to teach myself that this is ‘okay’. Then go back to being peaceful and offering him peace of mind as well. Let go of the feeling and start again. We all have instincts of self preservation. It is not about masking those feelings, but acknowledging them honestly, sharing them, and releasing them, then going back to ‘not thinking’.

When I first started working with this behaviour, and allowing him to play it through, I could only do a few minutes and then, if it got aggressive, I would walk away. Each time I did this I acknowledged my own feelings. This didn’t change Timmy. He didn’t get more aggressive. He didn’t think he had won. All he continued to do was to acknowledge when I offered him peace of mind, and when he couldn’t we both acknowledged his reactions. and his feelings, and my reactions and my feelings. We are sharing the process. Acknowledging the behaviours is what is needed to release them and change them. Controlling them supresses them and that would take us back to the cribbing. I suspect these were behaviours he may have exhibited as a youngster and had them disciplined in some way, that led to him internalising them.

By persistently offering Timmy peace of mind, by continually staying with him and acknowledging his emotions and behaviours, by patiently offering him peace of mind time and time again, he can release the un-peace he has from past events and change how he looks at things.

Note: This is a horse I know very well and, also, I have had five years working with and understanding my own emotions and feelings and thought processes and how those relate to how animals feel, respond and react. The video shows many behaviours that can bring up fear and control responses. The key is not control. The key is acknowledging and allowing the reaction until release. Always be safe.

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