In a perfect world, focus and calm would go hand in hand. In the real world, some horses are so focused on every single sound and sight, they are stimulated to the point of panic and quickly become exhausted. Others are overly calm, so laid back they’re not paying attention, stepping off the trail or not noticing potential danger.
When a horse picks up its head as high as it can go, flares its nostrils, snorts, shifts weight ... these are all signs of intense focus. We had a lesson pony, Mr. Pony Bologna, who would wait in a high alert situation until he felt his rider was balanced. This is true partnership. Not all horses are able to provide that level of focus while remaining calm.
Horses survived for millions of years without any help from humans. Because natural instincts are still full blown in the average horse, the best we can ask for is cooperation. When it comes to changing negative behaviors, many horsepeople try to suppress or control the symptoms. Flower essence remedies address the root cause of the problem, thus eliminating the horse’s need to behave negatively.
If your horse does not act well in a crowd, this insecurity could stem from lack of self-confidence. Similar challenges may include entering the show ring, arriving at an unfamiliar site , or being turned out to pasture with others.
You can help your horse flourish despite these physically or emotionally difficult environments. Best essences for the horse lacking self-confidence are lady slipper flowers for grounding and mimulus for fear. Mimulus is a delicate flower that flourishes in harsh surroundings; that is exactly what mimulus essence will do for your horse.
On the Other Hand...
The horse who is overly confident nearly runs you over in its eagerness to meet and greet every new horse or attractive patch of grass. This horse needs to establish a cooperative relationship with his human partner. Impatiens is a fabulous flower essence to use for such exuberance. The horse needs to pause and check in, even if for just a nano-second, to see how the partner feels about this move. Impatiens will give you that pause. Use this essence for impatience, irritability, and restlessness. This is the exact same flower many of us have growing in pots on our porches and use as a ground cover.
Essences Overcome Personality Extremes
To help my horse focus on me, I would use essence of rock rose for remaining steadfast in the present moment. Tiger lily essence promotes a spirit of teamwork with trust in each others’ decisions. Sometimes, the best course IS to let go of the reins and allow your trusty steed to carry you to safety. But, there are times when you will know best and your horse must respond when you pick up the slack in your reins and give directions.
Clematis is an essence that sharpens dullness in the horse who is not interested in or not able to focus on daily tasks. This is the horse who appears depressed but not to the point where appetite changes or illness develops. He may go through his routine with a vague disinterest or seem slow to understand your requests or the reasoning behind them. Clematis itself is a gorgeous pastel-colored flower that has a long stem and tends to gracefully sway with just the slightest breeze. It is so soft in color and shape that it is difficult to actually focus on the flower; when used as an essence – it sharpens your focus.
Formulated Therapy: Flower Essence therapy was first introduced by Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) to gently address emotional and mental imbalances in a personality experiencing difficulties. When researching his original 38 remedies, he relied heavily on how he "felt" emotionally and mentally in the presence of particular plants. He formulated his therapy on these feelings, his previous education, subsequent provings, and case studies.
Emotional First Aid
If past trauma or stress is interfering with your horse’s performance, use arnica essence. Human athletes have discovered the benefits of arnica infused in oils and gels and rubbed on overworked muscles. Use caution as it is highly toxic in its natural state and never use on an open wound. Arnica used as an essence is excellent for cleansing the emotional system of negative memories which prevent the animal from fully enjoying experiences in the present moment.
Arnica essence has proven itself indispensible after a crisis. I used this essence on rescued animals in the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina, in California after horses had been trapped by wildfires, and in Texas after two dogs disappeared into the funnel of an F-5 tornado and were found days later severely traumatized. All recovered from subsequesnt extreme phobic behaviors by using arnica flower essence in combination with essences specifically intended for shock: star of Bethlehem and aconite. If your horse tends to freeze and not move due to fear, confusion, or sheer stubbornness, I would suggest these same essences.
Use arnica in combination with sweetgrass essence for the abused horse who knows only distrust and hatred. I have worked with pigs, sheep, goats, and veal calves rescued from slaughterhouses and American Mustangs incarcerated for the first time in their lives and separated from their herds. All of these animals have responded to the kindness of flower essences, helping them to cope with their current environments and learning to trust humans.
Essences should be made using a good source of water. Do not use water from hoses or water buckets, as they are possible sources of bacteria and other contaminants.
- Pick a few flowers
- Float them in water in the sunshine for 20 minutes
- Discard (or dry and store) the flowers
- Shake the flower-infused water before using
To use, sprinkle a few drops on your horse’s hay, grain, water bucket, bath water, grooming equipment, whatever is convenient for you. I put some on the palms of my hands before I pick up the lead rope or reins.
We all want a horse who is happy and wants to participate with whatever the activities of the day may bring, whether a visit from the farrier, health care professional, trailering, competing , or a friendly ride down the driveway to get the mail. Calm focus will help them enjoy the task and want to repeat it for you, improving your relationship and keeping you both safe and sound.
Meg Harrison is the owner of BlackWing Farms in Fallbrook CA, a small company created to help treat animals and to help bring animals and their owners/companions closer together. Meg’s book, Helping Humans One Animal at a Time , containing stories and studies of animals, plants, and human companions improving each other's lives, is available at Amazon.com and BlackWingFarms.com