If you've been following my blog over the last few weeks and months, you might be wondering about how things are now with me and the amazing horse that I took on in May. We've had our challenges and our ups and downs, so what has worked for us, and what hasn't...?
Well, I can tell you that Dax is a different guy to how he was just a month or so ago. He has really softened and relaxed which is wonderful to see. He's choosing to come with me when I ask him to - sometimes he needs to think about this for a second, but that's fine by me. I want him to engage his brain and to think about things, even if that means that it takes a little bit longer while he considers his options.
He's recently had lots going on in his life - the dentist, the trimmer, a worming treatment and 3 of his buddies moving to another yard. The trimmer (Caroline Andresen of Hoofing Marvellous) has been a few times now and he soon learnt that he can trust her to take good care of him and to make sure that he feels safe and comfortable at all times.
His dental appointment was the first since he had come to Bristol, so it was a new dentist and a different experience for Dax, but he was amazing. I was so proud of him!
The loss of his 3 buddies hit him the hardest. His special friend Belle was one of the 3 and he called for her for a day or so, obviously missing her and wondering where she's gone and whether or not she would come back.
But Dax is a resilient fellow and he settled again, just in time for a new arrival. We now have a young filly - a 2 year old Exmoor pony - on the yard. She's the cutest little thing and so independent! She's well able to take care of herself despite her size. Dax has been a complete star too, and has been looking after her, which completely made my heart melt!
Looking back over all that's been happening I've realised that I've learnt so much about myself since Dax arrived. My relationship with him has been like a metaphor for my life... It struck me the other day that the more I 'resisted' the challenging behaviours that Dax was showing, the more fear I felt, and the more fear, the more I resisted. It became a negative cycle that wasn't helping either of us.
The change has seemed to come in steps. For example, one day I got the sense that Dax saw my attempts to be more assertive, and defend my space, as a game. He wasn't being nasty, he just wanted to play, but his play was scary to me - and because of his size, mass and strength, it could actually be potentially dangerous. The important thing was that this realisation wiped out most of my fear and gave me a very different perspective. I began to be able to respond with humour - or at least to be able to laugh at myself, and sometimes with Dax, rather than getting scared and anxious and only adding to the tension.
In the last week Dax has started to use his lips to nuzzle, rather than going straight in with his teeth. I felt that he wanted to offer some mutual grooming - he loves a good scratch (as you can see in the video above) and I felt that he wanted to connect by offering something in return - however I was too nervous of those big teeth of his to let him try. He might always be a horse who likes to explore things with his mouth, and he might never be good with hand-held treats (he gets over excited and can become nippy and pushy) but he his now starting to offer a more gentle connection and engagement which is really helping me to relax more around him. This in turn helps me to breathe more easily, rewarding him with softness and calmness and encouraging him to respond in the same way - a much more positive cycle.
Dax has taught me that I should have trusted my gut from the beginning and just listened to him and to my own sense of what was right for me. This relationship is between the 2 of us. Another horse, or another person, would bring a different response and what has worked for us might not work with that combination.
I would just like to encourage everyone reading this to really listen to your own inner wisdom. Do what feels best to you, in your situation, with your set of circumstances.
If you're struggling to do this, don't worry. It's very easy to get out of touch with our own intuition and inner guidance, but there are simple steps you can take to reconnect:
If you feel that you would like some support in reconnecting to your inner self, I offer workshops on how to Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow. I will also be offering Mindfulness sessions at our new premises in Wales where you can spend time tuning in to the peacefulness of the surrounding woodland and / or sit with the horses. If you'd like to know more, please contact me: