When a ‘problem horse’ isn’t the problem

Here’s Rosie on her recent 40-mile walk, with horse and human companions, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to her home barn in Angola. Those are makeshift (diapers and duct tape) hoof boots on her front feet.

I was one of many professionals, volunteers and friends who worked with Rosie when, in July, she wouldn’t get on the trailer to go home. When I communicated with her about it, she showed me she wanted to go home, but the image I kept getting was one of a seriously stuck gear. The way a 12-15 year old rescue horse’s “gear” gets stuck is probably about the same way any of our gears get stuck: trauma, illness and factors only God knows.

If you can’t unstick a gear by the usual means, you have to figure something else out … maybe even something better. Rosie’s human was determined to find not only a fear-free, force-free solution but the larger lesson. As a therapy horse, Rosie has encountered humans with their own stuck gears. Like her, they’ve struggled with seemingly ordinary tasks and taken on the frustration and judgment of others.

To prepare Rosie, I continued our regular Reiki sessions, sharing a healing space with no expectation. Then I told her what was going to happen, visualizing the horses and humans and country roads, complete with rustling autumn leaves, and the barn and her friends back home.  

Though I wasn’t on the walk itself, I followed the live video updates on social media. As the group drew closer to home, a weary Rosie’s ears perked up and she ever so slightly picked up the pace. She knew where she was.

Was this the easiest solution? Of course not.

But aren’t we all, as Ram Dass said, just walking each other home?