Flower Essences for group harmony amongst horses

Many horse carers (“owners”) are familiar with the scenario of introducing a new horse to other horses. For many carers it can be a “mixed bag” of emotions. For all the excitement and happiness the carer experiences regarding his/her new equine friend, there is also present at times, the trepidation or anxiety involved in settling in the new horse with the “established resident/s”. During this process, a number of scenarios can arise, many distressful to one or more of the horses involved.

For the carer looking on, this can be a worrying, painful time. Fears for a horse’s physical and emotional welfare can arise. Sometimes, carers are moved to intervene in an attempt to minimize the stress involved- for example, some horses may be temporarily moved to an adjoining paddock/field. Such measures however are often impractical and / or costly and carers are left desirous of an alternative solution to this problem.

Enter flower essences! For those not familiar with flower essences (or flower remedies), they are natural remedies that address negative emotional states, sometimes physical ailments, and help to bring about a more positive mind-set. In doing so, they enhance a horses general health and wellbeing.

Horses generally respond beautifully to flower essences. They can be used for a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems that horses may experience. In the situation of introducing a new horse to one’s home, flower essences can be given to any of the horses who would benefit from them. In thus addressing the emotional imbalances of the various individuals involved, it is far more likely group harmony can be established.

Usually when a new horse is introduced to an existing group, a process will get underway whereby it is determined where this horse “fits in the pecking order”. This is because horses are herd animals and a hierarchy exists amidst them, with usually one horse the leader. So it is that the new horse undergoes “inspection”, whereby his physical and personal characteristics are assessed. During this process, carers can notice on the part of the different horses involved, noses touching, pacing, squealing, snorting, at times stamping, rearing and kicking etc

How the new horse responds depends on his personality, past experiences, etc. If he is naturally an “alpha” (leading) horse he may not take to this inspection too willingly and assert himself e.g. bite, career. If however the newcomer is a submissive personality, he may instantly show signs of submission to the others, especially the leader/s, exhibited by such behavior as backing away, avoiding eye contact, lowering the head

The “resident leader” of the group usually has a big influence on the situation. Leaders basically are not willing to allow a “newcomer” to assume leadership, control. As a result, when meeting the new horse, they may act in a dominating, even aggressive manner. Whilst this is a natural reaction, carers may be keen to “take the edge” off such behavior especially if the horse in question poses a physical danger to new horse e.g. kicks him/her. Furthermore, other horses present may also display dominating or aggressive behavior as they seek to maintain “their place” in the group.

To address the behavior of any bossy, overbearing horse a number of essences can be used: Scilla (Scilla natalensis) helps with any dominating traits and facilitates working together for the common good. Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is excellent for threatened masculine energy and can temper strong “egos”, excessively “yang” horses. Tiger Lily (Lilium humboldtii) promotes positive social interaction and collaboration by balancing feminine and masculine soul forces; Vine (Vitis vinifera) is helpful for dominating horses, and, for leaders, Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius) is also applicable as it allows the emergence of the positive qualities of leadership.

If the horse is actually being aggressive or hostile, one could administer any of the following: Holly (Ilex aquifolium) which addresses any kind of strongly negative state such as violence, bad temper; Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) for misplaced snapping or biting;

When horses first meet, there often arises a general atmosphere of tension, if only one of tense excitement. To help the horses remain calm during this meeting, one can administer Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), a great balancer and wonderful for horses who suffer from nervous tensions when over stimulated, or Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera), ideal for horses who are impatient, impulsive and impetuous. Some other well known calming / soothing essences are: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) to calm and soothe; Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) to induce serenity, calm, and relaxation and the well known calming remedy “Rescue Remedy”.

Once the horse has been introduced, an unsettled period often follows during which the horses explore and adapt to their new place within the restructured group. Ideally, this process concludes with all horses settling down harmoniously. Unfortunately however, various factors can prevent an easy, good willed association between the different “family members”.

Intolerance of one horse to another can be addressed by Beech (Fagus silvatica). A wonderful flower essence to promote general group harmony is Quaking Grass (Briza maxima) - it promotes harmonious social consciousness, and flexibility, hence is wonderful for groups that are unable to find the right balance between individuality and common needs of a group. And, Tiger Lily again (Lilium humboldtii) also promotes cooperation and positive social interaction.

Some horses view a new “member” as a possible competitor or contender for food or attention. Flower essences that address issues of lack and missing out can be beneficial here. Some such essences are: Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum) which promotes a sense of security regarding ones self; Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) which address’s issues of fear of lack, going without, hence is ideal for horses who hoard and wont share food;

Horses may also find it hard to trust and “embrace” others. This can manifest as defensive or hostile behavior at times, none of which is conducive to group harmony. Some helpful flower essences for such horses include Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium) which promotes the loving inclusion of others and helps horses trust; Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversiloba) which is appropriate for horses that fear intimate contact and are protective of personal boundaries, reactive or rejecting in relationships

Another important essence for all horses involved is Walnut (Juglans regia), a remedy to assist one cope with change/s. This essence can be particularly important for the “new horse” adapting to a new environment and lifestyle.

It is often the new horse who in fact may require the most essences given the significant change to his / her life. However the beauty of essences is they can be given to any horse and individual remedies made to meet each horse’s unique needs. The carer can assess each horse and based on their observations and understanding of the horse’s emotional state, select the appropriate flower essence/s to administer. Selection is usually done via reading the essence descriptions and deciding which are appropriate or, alternatively, via muscle testing (kinesiology), intuition etc.

Having then established which essences will be used, it is time to administer them. This can be done in several ways. If the horse is fed via a bowl and you know the food will be eaten shortly, you can place the drops in his / her feed. One can also place essences in a slit cut into a carrot, apple etc or add to any watering bucket that will soon be used. Placing essences in a horse's food/water is by far the easiest way to administer essences, however one just needs to be sure the food / water will be ingested shortly as heat and light cause essences to deteriorate.
Sometimes however, horses can detect the remedy in their food, water - the alcohol preservative can give it away - and give their feed a wide birth. If this is the case, one can often purchase essences that use glycerine or apple cider vinegar as the preservative, rather than the traditional brandy.

If your horse tolerates syringes in their mouth, you could instead place several drops of essence in a syringe full of water, and insert the syringe into his/her mouth, much as you might do with other medicines etc. However, this method should only be used with horses that don't object to oral medicines/remedies given via syringes as otherwise they could toss their head, rear etc and possibly injure you. It's also not suggested you use a glass stem dropper to place essences inside a horses mouth in case he/she clamps down on it and shatters the glass, which could injure both him/herself and yourself.
One can also rub – if safe to do so, as some horses may get startled- the essence on some unbroken and healthy bare skin, preferably not on face or ears. Given most essences contain alcohol, do make sure it's not placed on broken or irritated skin as the remedy could then sting and cause horse to jump etc. So, for example, one could part some fur on a healthy whither, place some drops there then rub gently - be aware though, that in administering the essence in this fashion, you too will receiving the essence therapy as the remedy will be absorbed into your skin too!

Basically, you would probably want to use fewer drops with smaller horses than large ones (- directions are usually to be found on bottles). However, as with people, the frequency of using the essences has a greater bearing on the outcome than the no. of drops taken.

It's a very good idea to monitor your horse's response to the essences. How well and how quickly a horse responds to essences is unique to that individual. Many horses respond quickly and only require the essences for a short period. Other horses may require a longer period to see significant changes in behavior etc. (Some horses also achieve better results if essences are used with other therapies/medicines)

Unlike many pharmaceutical drugs, flower essences, do not have side effects due to their constituents (unless one is allergic to alcohol). For many horses, flower essence therapy, as well as being a helpful experience, is one that does not “interrupt” their daily life as the effects are subtle. However, with some horses, when they take essences, emotions can “come to the surface” i.e. the horse may experience the emotions the essences are “working on”. Or, he/she may experience the emotions more strongly. When quite obvious or intense, this is often called a “healing crisis”- i.e. symptoms get worse before they get better- and it indicates the medicine is working. If a healing crisis should occur, cease the essences and talk to your essence supplier re. possibly adjusting the dose or maybe even trying a new, different remedy instead.

As a rule, it is generally a good idea to give essences to horses at night if possible, that is after they have been ridden, worked etc (- an exception to this would be, for example, calming essences, which can be given whenever one wants to help a horse calm down.) For essences that work on painful and / or strong and / or deep emotions, or issues of aggression, for safety reasons, it is especially wise NOT to give essences prior to riding or exercising/working a horse, just in case the horse is "working though" any emotions the essences may be addressing and is agitated etc as a result. If you are giving essences for a very deep, strong or painful issue e.g. abuse, deep fear, aggression, it is probably best not to ride one's horse at all during this time, to allow them the space to heal and also for safety reasons (again, in case they become agitated as emotional issues are addressed.) If in doubt as how to proceed, please consult with a flower essence therapist who has experience with using essences for animals. Together, you could discuss the situation, horses personality, environment, etc and in doing so, hopefully establish the best approach regarding the matter. e.g. for a subdued horse who was abused as a foal, it may be best his "essence therapy" be scheduled for a fothcoming break from the shop jumping season, so as to allow him time and space to properly assimilate the essences and their effects.

Practical approaches should often also not be abandoned or ignored just because a horse is using essences. e.g. if an "alpha" horse is known to be especially hostile to newcomers initially, it's probably best/wise, if possible, to first place the new horse in an adjoining paddock to allow the horses to make initial contact with a fence physically separately them. Again, once the effects of the essences are determined, one can make any relevant changes to the situation if applicable. e.g. move horses into same paddock if it's deemed safe, appropriate to do so, and supervise response of all horses.

As horses are basically social creatures and for the most desire and enjoy company, often with time things do indeed settle down of their accord. At times however a little assistance from the carers is required to encourage this state of affairs and to ensure the transition is as smooth and safe as possible. In such circumstances, fortunately there are now readily available a great many gifts from nature to assist the horses and help promote a happy and harmonious home life!

* nb. some plants species have a number of varieties e.g.. in the Chamomile family, one can find the botanical varieties Matricaria chamomilla, Matricaria recutita and anthemia nobilis .With regards to flower essences, it’s important to understand the qualities of the flowers belonging to the different varieties can have slightly different properties. Hence when ordering an essence based on its description, it's important to check the botanical name is the same as that which you are after.

** many flower essences have multi- healing qualities. For the purposes of this article, only the relevant qualities are stated, please understand

~ Copyright Tranquil Path P/L 2011

Please note, further, and important, information about using flower essences, can be found here at Tranqil Path's FAQ page.

If you are involved in publishing a magazine, website, ebook, or newsletter etc and would be interested in Marlene possibly writing an article for your publication, please feel free to contact her to discuss this.

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Flower essences should not replace important medical / psychological care. The purpose of the information provided on this web site is not to diagnose, prescribe, prevent, treat or cure. No medical claims are made

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