Case Study – Isabelle.

This is one of the most bizarre cases I have treated, not because of the symptoms being exhibited but the eventual release point for the healing to be fully initiated.

Isabelle is a beautiful TB/Irish Cob of approx. 15.3hh. She is about 9 years old and had been bought from a dealer about 2 years ago. At first she was a very sweet and easy to handle mare. Since being with her present owner there had been a couple of incidents in the field where she had been bullied by another horse. Last summer she had completely "lost it" and the vet diagnosed that in horse terms she had suffered a nervous breakdown. With the aid of sedatives and other medication she had made a partial recovery but was still left with some quite serious behavioural disturbances.

  • Unable to be worked properly for months
  • Had been ear twitched at some point and was frightened of people working on the left.
  • Terrified out on hacked and would bolt at the slightest disturbance, could not be hacked out alone.
  • Could not be tied up outside on the yard almost seeming to be agoraphobic.
  • Frightened of both the saddle and bridle and would bolt around stable to avoid them.
  • Frightened of clippers
  • No emotional connection with owner but if any one came near would stand between owner and 3rd person to block view.

On this first occasion that I saw Isabelle she was very nervous of my presence. As her owner tried to explain her predicament to me, Isabelle displayed one of the symptoms as she repeatedly placed herself between the owner and myself, to the point where we were dodging around the stable trying to have a conversation. We discussed at length the story of the saddle. Many people had suggested that it was a poor fit but it was bespoke and had been checked and re-checked, the owner was adamant that she had made absolutely that there was no problem there. Similarly, she had made sure that her teeth were OK, her back and tried calming herbs. They had offered a degree of help but the underlying cause had not been resolved. Although the owner was very caring and as she put it "made sure that Isabelle was never left cold or hungry" the mare never displayed any sign of emotional recognition towards her. This was starting to become a problem in that the owner was wondering whether there was any point to her efforts at all. She didn’t mind not being able to ride but felt that she was merely being tolerated as a source of food and shelter. She was gaining absolutely no reward for her hard work and everyone was advising her to sell.

I began to work on her and the first thing that became clear was that she was very mistrustful of anyone working on the left. The owner was forced to do up the girth and put on the bridle on the right. As I slowly and gradually worked my way around her she relaxed a little and showed signs of allowing the energy to flow, her head dropped, her bottom lip became floppy and her ears softened. The right hip took quite a bit of energy and also the shoulders, there was quite an emotional disturbance through the heart and the solar plexus but not to account for the degree of reaction she was showing when faced with the prospect of being ridden. I worked my way up her neck to her ears. On the right this was successful and she allowed me to hold my hands quietly in position. On the left she would not tolerate this so we left it for another time. It is important not to give up at the first sign of resistance but when it continues it means that issue related to this particular place is not ready to be dealt with yet, to force it would cause distress and therefore be counter-productive. I finished with a final balancing of energies to which she had a stronger than usual reaction, she visibly jumped as the excess energy finally left her field. I felt that we had made a useful start and that she had a good deal to be sorting out in the next few days.

During the intervening week between my visits I decided to support with a distance healing. The benefit of this was that she would not be disturbed by my physical presence. Therefore, hopefully she would be able to accept the energy more readily because her fear of strangers would be negated.

When I returned the following week, the owner reported that the other people who handled her had noticed that she was responding to them in a much more positive way. She too felt that Isabelle was attempting to make contact. As we stood talking Isabelle stood quietly behind her owner nuzzling her jacket and then rested her head on her shoulder.

I began once again to work on her and noticed that she was much more relaxed with my presence and let the defences down much more readily. She was more comfortable with me working on the left and allowed me to touch her left ear. Most of the work that I had done the previous week had held and she felt altogether in much better shape energetically. In fact I was beginning to think she was a fraud, although I had been all over her very carefully I had not found the release point for all this fear that she was showing. I asked the owner to bring in the saddle and bridle. Having got her to sort herself out this was the next stage. As she returned with the tack Isabelle shot to the back of the stable and stayed there.

The moment that I put my hands on the saddle the sensation was incredible. Somehow this saddle was full of fear it was quite overwhelming. I spent some considerable time working on the saddle, the stirrups and girth. I also worked on the bridle and found some of the fear there as well. During this time Isabelle looked on with interest again standing behind her owner and nuzzling. When I felt that the energy had more or less returned to normal I made a link between Isabelle and the saddle with me as a physical "bridge". I spent time allowing the energy that was again released to settle. Finally, we very carefully put the saddle on. Isabelle was somewhat hesitant but according to the owner nowhere near as bad as usual. The girth was done up from the right side. I again allowed the energy and emotion to dissipate. We removed both the saddle and bridle after we had finished. This had been a very long treatment but I felt we had made a significant impact on the route of the problem. I also gave the owner some pointers on handling the horse in a more positive way.

I rang the owner recently to get an update on Isabelle’s progress. She is very pleased, a number of different people from the yard are handling her with no problems and Isabelle is tolerates it very well. Most importantly the owner now feels that they have a bond. She is still a little hesitant of the bridle but putting the saddle on is no longer a problem. She has come back into work and stopped over-reacting to the smallest of stimuli. The owner is regaining her confidence out on the road and is taking the initiative when she perceives that there is something that Isabelle may take fright at. She has continued her new handling style and is getting regular help from an instructor. Although the job is not quite finished the owner wants to wait until she moves to her new yard but at the moment Isabelle’s behaviour is at a tolerable level and they are still moving forward together.

This article is kindly provided by Alison Hastie MGCP. MAR. PCR. TATh.
For further information please click here to visit Alison at Sandford Therapies.
Alison will be very happy to answer any questions you may have

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Updated: October 2005.