As I reflect on this event, I’m reminded of the ingredients that brought Legend back to life again – elements that can help us to when we are faced with anxiety and the after effects of trauma:
- Care: alone in that paddock, Legend would have continued to deteriorate. Physically. Socially. Mentally. He needed others to help him get out of the situation he was in. He needed us humans to rescue him from his living conditions. He needed fresh food and water and to have his physical needs met. Socially he needed to be with other horses.
- Social Support: But he also needed other horses to teach him again how to – well – be a horse. Horses are by nature social creatures. So are we. It’s tempting to isolate oneself at times when we feel overwhelmed but sometimes our thoughts and feelings deceive us into thinking certain ways or feeling certain ways that aren’t good or even necessarily true. It’s wise to lean on and listen to others who have a more supportive and positive way of looking at the world when we get caught up in negative patterns. Know that you can’t always trust your own thoughts. Find a network of people who are not stuck in the web of negative thinking. Legend needed to leave his dung-filled tiny paddock to know that there was more to life than what he was seeing. You should have seen him when he first laid eyes on the herd at the home paddock! Such excitement at seeing a herd that was galloping through the meadow filled with life! Find a supportive network – be it a family member, friends, colleagues, support groups, therapy – help is out there.
- Find time for pleasurable activities. Sometimes it can be difficult to find “fun” in life again following a trauma or multiple traumas. Activities you once enjoyed may no longer hold the same appeal. Keep trying. Try out new things – keep trying until you find something, no matter how small, that brings healthy enjoyment. Legend was a beautiful horse but given the many years of living in his own manure, his feet were not ever completely normal again. While he could be ridden lightly, he wasn’t able to participate in any show competitions. His “new normal” didn’t mean he wasn’t valuable though. He loved to be groomed and continued to be a wonderful teaching horse for beginner riders for years after. Seeing him out in the meadow, leader of his herd, enjoying his freedom, any visitor to the farm could see that Legend was living out his purpose – he was a horse, living among horses.
But life doesn’t stop when we’re pulled out of our desperate circumstances. We take that experience with us. And so did Legend.