Flower Essences to support horse teaching/guidance.

Horse teaching, also known as training, is an activity taken on by many caregivers to develop a working partnership with the horse based on mutual understanding. Many lessons taught are important for the horse’s, and handler’s, safety and to ensure a smooth and pleasant interaction between horse and human (or other animals). A horse can be taught many things once a cooperative attitude has been established and once a common language/communication has been developed.

The overall success of training generally depends on a number of factors - the horse’s nature/personality, life experiences, environment, age, health etc. Another big influence is the actual trainer and the techniques he/she uses.

It’s been long understood horses are pack animals and generally wish to heed/follow a “leader”. Hence traditionally trainers have known it is important to be firm and assertive when training a horse. Whilst this understanding still holds today, in 2011 many trainers are embracing alternative styles of training to those traditionally taught. They do not wish to adopt the (or some of the) techniques that were used years ago and which at times involved dominating, forcing, even punishing the horse. Rather, many of today’s new trainers are embracing a more interactive, even wholistic, approach to training. Such trainers recognize that it important to “work with” the horse during training and they wish to gain their horse’s co-operation through respect, understanding and awareness.

Those training in this co-operative manner may employ/adopt various approaches and tools to do so. For example, they seek to attune to the horse, develop an awareness and understanding of him/her and tackle any problems that arise in a supportive, constructive manner. For example, if a horse baulks at a log he is being trained to jump, the caretaker (“owner”) may recognize the behavior is due to his fear of a puddle on the other side and rather than push him to continue, selects instead a log in a dry area for the duration of the lesson. Hence the horse is supported, not pressured or further stressed. Positive re-enforcement and motivation training are other methods that have proved very popular in recent years.

A more wholistic approach that is gaining in popularity is the use of flower essences. For those not familiar with flower essences, these are natural remedies made from flowers. The health properties of flower essences are made possible through the life force of the flowers. Flower essences address negative emotions (and sometimes physical ailments) which in turn strengthens and enhances one’s overall health and wellbeing

Flower essences can be used to assist with many different aspects of training. One such area is communication. Trainers generally recognize that good communication is vital for productive training sessions. They know that horses often respond well if instructions are conveyed in a clear, firm, respectful manner. However it may take some time for the lessons to be leant or learnt well and at times the outcome of a training session is somewhat other than what the caretaker hoped to achieve!

Thankfully, there are a number of flower essences available to both focus the horse’s attention and help him/her attune to you and what you are wanting to convey. Calendula* (Calendula officinalis**) may be beneficial for horses who listen superficially and/or challenge instructions (“argue”). It fosters warmth, sensitivity and co-operation during communications. Star Tulip (Calochortus tolmiei) also promotes sensitive and receptive attunement and quiet listening to others. It’s ideal if the horse in question generally seems aloof, “cut-off” from the world and inwardly uneasy

If one’s horse is being taught a lot at once, the following essences may help him/her assimilate and / or co-ordinate the information with greater ease. Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum) promotes the ability to synthesize and integrate and to see the “complete picture”. Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) can help when horses are easily overwhelmed by details, unable to cope with simultaneous events or demanding situations, as it fosters an active and lively consciousness, an alert, flexible and mobile state of mind. Spur Flower (Plectranthus ciliatus) also facilitates learning and assimilation

To strengthen mental clarity and thus improve alertness and focus, various essences are available: Lemon (Citrus limonum) can be given for vitality and mental clarity as it clears the mind through co-coordinating thoughts. Fig Tree (Ficus carica) develops mental clarity, self-assurance and memory

For head strong, dominating horses, the following remedies may be of assistance: Martagon Lily (Lilium martagon) develops the qualities of co-operation and could be used for horses who are dominating and domineering. Vine (Vitis vinifera) likewise can be used for dominating, intimidating horses.

Some horses are generally apathetic and this is often reflected in their attitude to training. (With such horses however, it’s important to recognize that the apathy may have either a physical and /or emotional cause – e.g. a disease that is causing his apathy. If either are present, it's important to address these issues.) There are a number of essences that can be used generally to assist with listlessness, dullness or apathy that horses may exhibit. Through them promoting vitality and enthusiasm, the horse is then more likely to respond enthusiastically to training.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) is one such essence. This essence develops willpower and enthusiasm. Wild Rose (Rosa canina) is for resignation, apathy, surrender, lack of interest and / or vitality. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) fosters vitality and is especially appropriate for temporary lack of concentration and fatigue due to overwork e.g. busy farm horses

A number of remedies are also excellent to help horses focus and center: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) can be administered to horses that are disoriented, forgetful, drowsy (especially if they are of a sullen and withdrawn disposition.) It develops mental clarity and sensitivity. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) helps horses overcome mental laziness and drowsiness and induces clarity, alertness. It’s also ideal to give after an intense bout of training to refresh your horse mentally. Madia (Madia elegans) enhances disciplined focus and concentration, hence is ideal for horses who are easily distracted, unable to concentrate, dull or listless. Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) promotes mental steadfastness and emotional clarity in demanding situations. Clematis (Clematis vitalba) can be used for horses who are absent-minded, sleepy, unobservant absorbed in thoughts with no interest in the present.

For horses that are not settled into regular routines and / or cycles (e.g. rest/sleep) and hence may be “sluggish” during training, Morning Glory (Ipomea purpurea) could be helpful. It assists with vitality and helps brings back the stability necessary for a balanced life style.

Horses, as humans, also have days when it’s hard to “get up and go”. To assist with temporary weariness, Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ) can be administered- it is for a temporary state of mental / physical tiredness when a lack of energy causes disinterest and weariness. Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is also energizing- it revitalizes recharges and uplifts. Baeometra (Baeometra uniflora) is helpful for fatigue, depletion, exhaustion

Rebellion during schooling also may present with some horses. There may well be an underlying cause for such behavior e.g. the horse was bullied by a previous caretaker during lessons and now won’t tolerate any training. In such cases it a good idea to use essences for the cause as well as general essences for rebelliousness. Some well know essences that broadly can be applied to situations involving rebellion are: Saguaro (Carnegiea giganteus) for horses experiencing a conflict with images of authority; Azalea (Azalea grandiflora), also helpful for rebelliousness

At times, a horse can find it hard to “learn a lesson”- they may repeat mistakes rather than grasp a certain point. In such instances, one could try Chestnut Bud (Aesculus hippocastanum) as it assists those who fail to learn from experience and repeat errors

Other horses can be very “hyper” during training (or generally!) For such horses, caretakers could try Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera), ideal for horses who are impatient, impulsive and impetuous. Some other well known calming / soothing essences are: Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), a great balancer, and wonderful for horses who suffer from nervous tensions when over stimulated; Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) to calm and soothe; Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) to induce serenity, calm, and relaxation. Or the well known calming remedy, "Rescue Remedy"

Training is often undergone at classes amidst a number of horses. Whilst many horse love such socializing and stimulus, some horses, especially sensitive horses, may feel uneasy, frightened even threatened by being amidst other horses. If one’s horse is frightened, in addition to the calming essences mentioned earlier, essences specifically for fear may also bring relief. For example, Mimulus (Mimulus guttatus) can be used for known fears, whereas Aspen (Populus tremula) is suitable to use in situations involving fears of unknown origin. Essences for courage include Borage (Borago officinalis) Mountain Pride (Penstemon newberryi) and Squash (Cucurbita moschata)

Some horses also easily pick up “vibes” from other horses around them e.g. fearful or aggressive vibes. Such horses can benefit from essences whose qualities are protective. These include White Yarrow (Achilllea millefolium) for horses who feel vulnerable to environmental influences; Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) to foster feeling protected, clear (mentally) and to promote strength in horses who are disturbed by the negative thoughts of others; Pink Yarrow (Achilllea millefolium), for horses who easily identify themselves with the emotions of others – this essence gives emotional protection to those who are unsettled by their surroundings and who are easily influenced

Horses may lacks confidence in their ability to perform certain tasks being asked of them. Horses lacking self esteem of confidence in themselves, their abilities, can be given a number of essences: Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) develops self-esteem, self-confidence, eases self doubt; Jasmin (Jasmine officinalis) promotes self–acceptance and self-esteem; Larch (Larix deciduas) is excellent for horses lacking confidence and expecting failure; Gentian (Gentiana amarelle) can be of assistance with horses who are easily discouraged, get disheartened and doubt; Cerato (Ceratostigma villmottiana) may also be helpful for horses who doubt their own abilities. Ixia (Ixia polystachya) addresses issues of self deprecation and lack of self confidence; Cape Almond (Brabeium stellatifolium) assists with feelings of insecurity and fear of failure; Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) can benefit horses who are self-critical and frustrated. Interestingly, Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Oxalis (Oxalis incarnate) are essences ideally suited to horses who swing between insecurity and arrogance.

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 than they usually do. 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. a horse with a fear of floats but who is due to travel to another state in a month could commence essences for her fear right away, whilst "out to pasture" and not being ridden and hopefully by the time she travels, her fear has reduced or cleared

Practical approaches should often also not be abandoned or ignored just because a horse is using essences. e.g. if your flightly horse is currently only manageble using a particular type of bit, it’s wise to continue to use this bit whilst he/she is receiving essences and then when they are finished, one can carefully gauge the situation and assess if eg. a lighter bit can now instead safely be used if the horse has responded as hoped from the essences (e.g has calmed down, responds better to requests etc).

So it is that there a great number of essences to address the various problems that one may encounter during training. Training ideally should be a wonderful, stimulating, rewarding time and a bonding experience between horse and caretaker/trainer. With the assistance of essences and positive training techniques, one can take a big step to ensuring this time spent together is more enjoyable and productive.

* 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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