Overcoming Past Traumas with Flower Essences
In the previous issue, we learned about addressing fears and insecurities of various flavors with flower essences. Some of these fears arise from traumatic experiences in a horse’s life. One key to releasing an animal from a fear state is to address the emotional blocks that formed as a result of a specific trauma. Flower Essences can provide the key to unlock the blocks to joy.
BRACE FOR THE CHALLENGE
Working an animal through humane desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises can be supported with a flower essence (FE) or FE blend. I have found over the years that FEs are very helpful for keeping an animal on a steady path in the healing process, rather than having to endure a ‘three-steps-forward-one-step-back’ ebb and flow of progress. The back and forth unfolding typical of emotional healing can be very frustrating for an animal owner and may lead to an exasperated raising of the white flag of surrender. Seeing strides forward is motivating and provides hope in the face of challenge; however, momentary set-backs can feel like failure. Don’t give up! During these times I urge animal owners themselves take FEs for persistence, courage and endurance, such as Mountain Pride, Elm, Gentian, Penstemon or Borage. To help them avoid being consumed in their concern for their animal, I recommend Red Chestnut. To improve communication with your horse, try Horsetail (!) or Cosmos.
Sometimes damaging traumas occur during birth or very early in life.
Often we adopt an older horse whose past we don’t even know. For
these occasions, I always start with Star of Bethlehem, one of the core
essences in FE founder Dr. Bach’s original combo, Rescue Remedy.
(I also use the highly effective organic version of this terrific trauma-addressing
blend, Five Flower Formula, by Flower Essence Services in California.) Rescue
Remedy is a commonly available blend that was originally designed to revive
injured and unconscious soldiers washing up on the shores during WWI. It’s
a great one for stabilizing a horse immediately after an ordeal, but it
can also serve well as a long-term emotional equalizer. Star of Bethlehem
has been found to release early or past traumas that have woven themselves
into an individual’s emotional fabric. Another core FE, Crab Apple
is a fabulous emotional detoxifier, assisting in the release of any old
baggage that gets in the way of growth.
For horses that are exceedingly needy or who seemed damaged by an upsetting weaning or lack of proper early nurturing, Mariposa Lily comes to fill the void. Milkweed rebirths the “forever foal” horse who is overly dependent upon or ‘addicted’ to another. Practitioners recommend Evening Primrose for the repressed horse who seems trapped by painful early emotions possibly from a poor or damaged relationship with her mother. This gentle essence appears to free a horse to enjoy future relationships with people and other horses. It is believed that early traumas are one source for animals shutting down and downshifting in physical energy in the face of pressure or tension; Tansy FE provides that spark of inspiration for active engagement.
On the other hand, some horses are scarred later in life and need support in breaking through self-protective barriers. Agrimony is a good choice for stoic horses who seem unable to truly process an experience—they are not overtly miserable, yet they no longer seem to have that genuine spark for life after a harrowing experience. Black-Eyed-Susan is appropriate for those who freeze in fear of facing their true emotions, living a suppressed and joyless life. If a shocking event creates resistance and bitterness, toss in some Baby Blue Eyes to bring a return to joyful innocence. If wounding results from a damaging personal relationship with a trainer or abusive herdmate and emotional walls develop, Mallow is my favorite for softening the barriers.
Stuck in a rut? When a horse seems unable to break out of old habits formed in defense against a painful event, good choices are Chestnut Bud, to break the repeating patterns; Golden Ear Drops, to release painful memories of the past; and Fuchsia, for letting go of dysfunctional propensities. Often horses who have suffered settle into a comfort zone and resist transitions. When he breaks down in the face of a move to a new barn, training under a new handler, or rehoming into a different family, give him Walnut to open him up to change and to maintain a sense of security. Add Honeysuckle for the homesick, or Lilac for the horse who seems nostalgic for his old life and unable to embrace the new.
GRIEF and LOSS
Losing a beloved companion, either animal or human, can be devastating to a horse at any age. She may shut down, become depressed, and seem unable to connect emotionally to another again. Some horses become ill themselves after losing their zeal for life following a death of a cherished partner. Look to Heather to fill the void of enduring loneliness, Forget-Me-Not for endless yearning, and Bleeding Heart for sadness. Sagebrush promotes evolution from devastating grief and emptiness into acceptance of the loss. For that horse whose grief and sadness has become deeply repressed and there seems to be an allergy-like tightening of the chest or strain on the lungs from lack of emotional expression, Yerba Santa is known to be a fabulous remedy. Those apparent “allergies” may be a symptom of long-standing grief.
Physical injury often intertwines with emotional scarring. Whether by accident or surgery, an assault to the body can create emotional imbalances that seem just as permanent as the trace of a scar in the skin. Sometimes individuals can’t completely heal physically without doing so emotionally. Classic FE Arnica addresses the vulnerability experienced alongside physical trauma and ensures retained embodiment beyond wound healing. Self-Heal FE is a must for deep healing from chronic injuries. It promotes a self-initiated journey of recovery. I apply it topically to skin scars, as well, with fantastic results.
Gem elixirs made from deep earth crystals support the actions of FEs, especially when there is an element of disembodiment. Pain and changes in athletic capacity can lead to a disengagement from or hypersensitivity in parts of the body involved in injury or surgery. It is believed that Rhodolite Garnet reconnects an individual energetically to his traumatized body parts, and that the Fluorite gem family breaks up blockages in the etheric body. Your horse can reincorporate his whole body back into its sense of ‘self’, thereby avoiding chronic muscle tension, damaging compensation, and re-injury with the help of elixirs and FEs.
With any serious trauma to the body there must come revitalization and renewal. Just as the fireweed plant grows profusely following an earth-altering wildfire, Fireweed FE provides the assistance to regenerate emotionally after a life-shifting injury, especially one involving burns and fire. Sierra Primrose is the one to grab off the shelf for renewing a horse’s vitality after devastating physical set-backs. Elm, Oak and Penstemon are very supportive for long-term recoveries.
Single essences or blends? There are many choices, but it is best to start simple. Don’t blend more than a few complementary FEs at a time and give them a chance to work before moving to another choice. I usually suggest multiple daily doses for at least 3 weeks as a ‘therapeutic’ approach. Hitting a core issue usually resolves the superficial, more obvious behaviors, but long-term balance may take time to establish. As always with emotional processing, there may be a release phase in the healing stage. Be prepared and open to a period of depression, rage, or reactivity. Allow for these emotions to be expressed safely and without additional suppression by handlers. I recommend periods of ‘free play’ at liberty in a safe arena, with or without a safe companion or toys, during these times to permit deep release. I enjoy “dancing” and kicking up the dust with my horses on occasion. Long trail rides and pasture walks can provide the theatre for gentle healing triggered by flower essence therapy. Refrain from rushing the healing and it will prove more thorough and lasting.