Five horses and I had just settled in for a Reiki session on a summer morning at a nonprofit equestrian center. Reiki is a meditation-based stress reduction modality that helps horses — especially during a busy season of camp, riding lessons and equine assisted therapy sessions — relax.
Suddenly a loud boom shook the pasture. The horses scattered, then huddled. Then they looked at me.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. A nearby pop-up fireworks store kept demonstrating its wares, neighbors were intermittently setting off their own, and nightfall would bring formal fireworks displays.
But this boom happened when I was there, and damned if we weren’t going to get a teachable moment out of it.
I switched into animal communication mode. Both animal communication and Reiki help animals cope with stressful events … but you know what they say about the right tool for the job, and it was time to talk about what was happening.
“Yeah, that was scary,” I told the horses, “but we’ve got this.”
Silently, using images along with the words, I explained that it’s OK to be unnerved (they’d seen me jump too!) but it was just noise and they could handle it. I also let them know they’d hear more of it in the coming days and nights. I pictured them standing together at night, alert but not panicked, amid the pops and bangs and streaks of light.
Then we continued with Reiki.
Many horses, dogs, and other animals (not to mention humans) are frightened to the point of severe distress by fireworks. The ASPCA offers strategies to help them cope with both fireworks and thunderstorms; ask your veterinarian if you think sedation might be needed.
Otherwise: Keeping calm yourself, letting the animals know what’s happening, and affirming your confidence in their ability to cope can speak louder than the booms.