Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A visit from the horse listener

This isn't something I would usually spend money on, but my down-to-earth, sceptical, crofting neighbours were having her out for the third year in a row and said she was uncannily accurate, so I thought I'd ask her for a session with Merlin and the dogs. This is what came out.

She started by pressing gently along his back and he nearly collapsed underneath her, which was a big surprise to me because I do the same thing regularly to check there aren't any sore spots and he's never even flicked an ear at it. She explained that it was to do with her energy and that he has a strong memory of having a permanently sore back, he's not always had saddles which fitted.

She got images of lots of other horses pulling things, lots of circles, endless circles, trees without tops, just trunks, endless featureless blue outside them - this kept coming through over and over again and she couldn't work out what it was. Then she got someone standing on his back and a horse doing fancy steps and we worked out he was trying to communicate a circus! He had a horribly severe bit and a saddle Isobel didn't recognise, there were donkeys there too and grey horses with huge necks.

He was gelded without anaesthetic. He says I'm soft with him and he doesn't mind me riding him but if he's not in the mood for doing something he won't (true). He doesn't like doing circles (true). There was a dark horse who wouldn't leave him alone, ever (Mac, last summer) and a grey pony he likes (Corky) that parades up and down the fence. There was a sad grey horse at the dealer yard (true, his best friend there was a grey who died).

He doesn't like children much. The postman likes to gossip with me (true!). He had two long journies of 12 hours or more (true). A needle got stuck in his neck and he span around in his box (Isobel said the vet looked like Keith from the Inverness vets - trying to check on this) and he'd had a lesson in an indoor school (Isobel says possibly James Gunn's place in Halkirk) where a girl fell off over his left shoulder, but it wasn't his fault (checking this with previous owner). He bucked with previous owners (true). He doesn't like jumping, he does like hacking but only on grass (true, the one bit of our failed beach hack he was relaxed on was when we were on the grass track heading inland). He doesn't like any pressure on his mouth (true).

His back feet sometimes get sore and he doesn't like gravel (true). He doesn't like being in his shelter, he prefers to stand behind it (true), and he doesn't like rugs (true) though appreciates that they're sometimes necessary in winter. He LOVES food (true). He can't always be bothered standing to have his feet picked out (true), but some days he just wants to be pampered (true). The farrier is nice but slow (true - he has an apprentice with him at the moment who's very careful). The dealer yard was busy and his stable had a drip in it.

He says I've been busy lately and haven't had as much time for him (true), but I like to watch him (true) and I like to watch the sea (true). He can't be bothered with humans to a great extent, he doesn't understand what they want of him a lot of the time and he's stopped really wanting to try (true, though this is slowly improving, he's much more of a people horse than he was a year ago). He knows Mick is a little nervous around him (true) and says he doesn't see Mick as much as me (true).

She has suggested trying clicker training with him, he's a horse who thinks in boxes and once he's happy with a box it's difficult to push him through the boundary into the next one (true) - CT may help with this.

By the end of the session he looked far more relaxed and when she pressed along his back again he didn't turn a hair. He's walking out more freely and this morning he cantered up the hill to say hello, which he hasn't done since he went lame.

All in all, if you hear that Isobel Hogton is coming to your area, do book a session for your horse, it's absolutely fascinating. She's based in Scotland but covers the whole country. http://www.horselistenerscotland.co.uk/ (And yes, the dogs were just as interesting and both of them slept like logs last night!)

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