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A look at limitations and boundaries with Querida. Part of my journey with laminitis.

Querida the pony and I have shared a lot of feelings over this hot summer. Feelings that emerged have included anger, frustration, annoyance, stubbornness, and feelings of being restricted. Querida has been breaking my fences and I have been repairing. She is getting into fields she shouldn’t be in, and this brings up her pulses and the laminitis flares up. 

At times I have got so cross with her seeming self-destructive mood that I have found myself dragging her back out of the field in annoyance. Querida then gets stubborn, ignoring me, and not moving, because I am not asking in a nice way and we just keep on spiralling. It is even worse when this all happens in the middle of the afternoon when it is scorching hot!

When we get to this point neither of us are listening to each other anymore. It just becomes a battle of wills, our individual frustrations mounting up and bouncing off each other, intertwining and spiralling out of control. It is very un-peaceful. So we called a time-out. We both needed some down time to find a level of peace and have a conversation.

Meet Querida

Querida is a pony that came to me in 2018 having suffered severely with laminitis including a degree of pedal rotation. Since then we have had many flare ups and sore hot hooves, but nothing severe. The conversations with Querida are always interesting and I should do them more often. 

Querida tells me how she feels

She has a way of expressing herself which really tells me how she feels about things, but also she has an amazing ability to mirror me and tell me what I need to work on to find my peace. It was only when we both stopped reacting to each other and came into the present moment (the place where thinking stops and we just be) that we could both start to sense where our un-peace lay. We shared feelings of being limited.

Understanding the Mirror

Often, if we are listening, animals will not only show us how they feel about something with their behaviour, they will also mirror back the feelings we are sharing with them. It is not therefore necessarily their feelings we need to interpret, but our own. This can be difficult to do sometimes as we have to first acknowledge that these feelings are ours. 

When I was able to get peaceful enough, Querida reflected my feelings back. When I was able to detach myself from my thoughts I realised I had been feeling like limitations were being imposed on me in many areas. And I had been reacting to them by either getting angry or frustrated, or feeling like I needed to justify something. And my feelings didn’t have anything to do with laminitis, or the horses, they were to do with something else entirely. I just hadn’t been present enough to realise that, until Querida effectively forced me to acknowledge these feelings.

Finding the Present 

The course I am doing (Trust Technique Practitioner Diploma) had bought up these feelings while I waited for my assessment, as there are limits on what I can do to help people / animals other than my own, until I am given the go ahead to move forward with the next level. 

Once I acknowledged the feelings I could sense that there was no reason to feel angry or frustrated with these supposed limitations. They are there for a reason. Part of the learning on the course is to acknowledge these types of feelings and release them, as they are just unnecessary anxieties. They are linked to the past and the future, and are not in the present. The present is about being where I am now.

Feelings of Limitations

It was only when Querida reflected my feelings back to me and I regarded my own feelings and the reasons for them, that I could start to get peaceful with them and change the reaction (anger and frustration) to a response (accept where we are as it is exactly as it should be). If I hadn’t changed the reaction I would still be going around and around the spiral attracting the limitations and boundaries. 

A week after I acknowledged, accepted and released these feelings, my assessors told me I was now in a position to start to teach others the Trust Technique, under guidance from the team who will provide feedback on the first 20 consults I carry out.

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Querida's Journey with Laminitis

So in summary, I was giving out feelings of being limited and Querida was picking these feelings up. She has probably been limited many times due to her laminitis.

When she felt my feelings, it bought up similar feelings within her. She reacted to this with behaviours such as breaking through fences, getting difficult with muzzling and not wanting her boots on. We then fed off each other as we were feeling similar things. It is a spiral that happens more often than we know.

I don’t think I appreciate enough how sensitive Querida is to my feelings, and how strongly she reflects them back. She takes a lot of responsibility for my feelings, and I need to acknowledge that more with her, and be grateful she is with me to show me.

Laminitis and Boundaries 

How does all this relate to managing laminitis? Laminitis is something that has to be managed, like diabetes or allergies in humans. The management though can feel like boundaries sometimes. If laminitis is thought about as a thing that needs to be controlled, rather than something an animal suffers with and needs help with, it can feel restrictive and feel like limitations are being imposed constantly.

Managing laminitis and insulin resistance is about restrictions, limitations and boundaries :

  • Restricting grazing
  • Restricting hay
  • Muzzling
  • Making sure there is enough movement
  • Sugar free feeds
  • Etc.

The Chronic Nature of Laminitis 

It is also about acknowledging and understanding that laminitis is chronic. Once the ponies or horses have had it once it becomes a highly sensitive physical reaction to many things. To get through an entire year without a flare up (however mild), which would enable hooves to really recover and strengthen, could only really be done at the expense of the animals emotional health. 

Accepting it all and working in the present moment is key to managing laminitis. Put boundaries and limitations in place, but with the right intention. Know that muzzles are key to restricting grazing. That boots are key to helping movement. Know that electric fences are a must. And know that being peaceful with every idea is a requirement.

Appreciating the Intention

None of these ideas are limiting, controlling or restricting until they are thought of that way. This is why Querida breaks my fences when my intentions are all wrong. When I see the fences as a means of controlling and limiting, rather than a way of helping her to be healthy. Change the intention. Change the response.

My intention is to manage the physical health of the animal without damaging the emotional health. A balance that has to be considered at all times. When we put in limitations and boundaries as a means of control we are not regarding the emotional health of the animal. It is like locking an alcoholic in a cage and placing the cage in a wine cellar so he can see it but can’t reach it. You may stop the drinking, but what comes out of the cage will be a very traumatised person.

Intentions and boundaries with Querida

Be comfortable with where you are on the journey with your laminitic.

Always regard the emotions and feelings while helping the physical, and listen to the animal.

They know what you need to know better than you do.

When we remove our own controlling limitations, there are always balanced solutions. If we are present we can hear them shouting at us.

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