2018 Series 4

Recovery from Stress and Trauma

Week 4: Releasing the effects of stress and trauma part 1

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August 27 - Sept. 2, 2018

course content for week 4:

Beginning the process of releasing trauma

Welcome to week 4!

Introduction to week 4

Now that we have a better understanding of how a horse might lose their resilience and succumb to the effects of chronic stress or trauma, how do we support them to recover? In my experience, working with trauma is akin to the classic analogy of peeling the layers of an onion. There are rarely quick fixes. A good rule of thumb to consider, for every year a horse has had the problem, it takes just about that much time to undo the effects. Hombre, the horse pictured above, came to me stuck in startle reflex from a bad training experience. It was a short-term insult that was relatively recent and it only took a few sessions for his nervous system to reset, his body to release the startle reflex.

Rehabilitating a horse suffering the effects of chronic stress, long term abuse, neglect or, the insidious impact of being asked to work through pain and discomfort, is one of the hardest things anyone can take on. It takes time, patience, ingenuity and tact. It is also one of the most rewarding things to experience a horse open themselves up to you, trusting you enough to allow you to support their recovery.

Course Content for Week 4:

Beginning the process of releasing trauma

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Links to PDF Documents for week 4:

PDF:  Releasing the Effects of Chronic Stress and Trauma Part 1

Audio Transcript:

Sometimes a horse is so traumatized or wild we cannot touch them. In that event is is always possible to help reset the nervous system doing work hands off. Here is an example of what happens when I do a long distance session:

September 20 Live Chat:

Topics covered:

  • Feedback loops within the body and between horse and human.

  • How diet factors into stress and trauma.

And I talk about all these things in light of the sessions we did with Madalyn Ward with my horses.

And last but not least how the unknown can cause fear in horse or human.

This week I'm sharing a session with a new client (the horse, not the human). This was a mare who does not like having her hind feet picked up so they've been unable to trim her hind feet. We were exploring what might be the cause of her resistance. It might be some trauma related to having her feet worked on in the past or it might be something physical/structural in her hind quarters. This mare ended up being a fabulous example of how we can begin to address the physical once the emotional components are resolved. Her person did a great job of building trust with this mare or I never would have been able to do what I did in one session.

And here is the third session I did with Tasani. It was quite interesting!

video demonstrations:

For this week I've made a list of videos that you've already seen that are useful examples of ways to work with the mental and emotional aspects of trauma recovery as well as ways to minimize stress during training and other interactions with our horses.

Working with careful visual observation in combination with resonance, or tracking what I feel, are key components of the early stages of working with horses who suffer mental or emotional effects of chronic stress or trauma.

Touch can be a powerful way to help release stress and trauma.

Movement is sometimes the best way to help a horse release the pent up energy associated with chronic stress or trauma. That can be hard when they are quite shut down. As is the case with Merlin. Make note of the times when he takes off running and frantically screaming. That's a clear sign of nervous system over activation!