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Letting go of disappointment: Coming to terms with your Horse's Injury

Gosh! If you're an empath like me, seeing your beloved horse injured can be challenging. It's not just the accident itself that leaves you feeling distressed, not knowing what will come next can be just as unsettling. If you're experiencing a loss of a beloved horse, please head on over to this article to help you cope. Once the hubbub of vets and supporters fade away, you may be left with a myriad of emotions, including disappointment. 

Many of us are taught to simply feel grateful that things didn't turn out even worse. While I'm a big advocate of gratitude as an authentic experience, I believe that all of our emotions get a vote. If we don't acknowledge the darker feelings of this journey, we cannot work through and release them. And as long as we continue to carry them, these negative, unacknowledged emotions may sabotage our relationship with our horses. So, to continue growing with our horse through their injury and subsequent recovery, let's embrace the process fully. Here are my top 10 points to consider when you work through the disappointment of your horse's injury. 

  1. Give yourself permission to feel: It's perfectly normal to have a range of emotions when someone you care deeply about is hurt or unwell. Whether you feel sadness, frustration, guilt, or even helplessness, these emotions are valid. Don't judge yourself for having them; instead, recognize that they are a natural response to an unexpected and difficult situation.

  2. Understand and work with your connection (Module 1 of Linda's How To Talk Horse Curriculum): The bond between you and your horse has the capacity to be profound. We all see our horses as our partners, and just because your horse is injured, the connection doesn't disappear. Continue to embrace and grow the connection between you and your horse, no matter what the situation is! 

  3. Find a safe space to express your feelings: Talking about your emotions can be incredibly therapeutic. Seek out friends or family, or reach out to a professional such as myself to feel heard without being judged. Sharing your feelings can help you process them, provide a sense of relief, and maybe even lead to a solution you may not have thought of on your own.

  4. Journal your thoughts: Writing in a journal can be a powerful tool for processing your disappointment. Putting your feelings on paper allows you to explore them in a more structured way. You can document your experiences, reflect on your attachment to your horse, and track the progress of both your horse's recovery and your emotional healing. Work on your sense of disappointment by taking charge of your emotional landscape. Ask yourself:  - How am I feeling right now? - What do I need right now? - What does my horse need today? - How can I deepen my connection with my horse so that when we can play again, we'll be tighter than ever?

  5. Self-compassion: Be kind to yourself during this difficult time. Understand that you may go through moments of self-blame, questioning your decisions, or wondering if you could have prevented the injury. Those of you who have read my book Safe Spaces may remember my story with Vesper, and how I continued to perpetuate my own pain by not having compassion for myself. While it's important to learn from the situation, remember that accidents can happen, and sometimes they are beyond your control.

  6. Engage in self-care: Taking care of your own physical and emotional well-being is essential, especially when caring for others. Ensure you get enough rest, maintain a healthy diet, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Regular exercise can also help release pent-up emotions and reduce stress. `

  7. Come up with an actionable training plan for your horse for each stage of his recovery. Consulting your veterinarian is important, and working with a trainer/instructor with background on anatomy, physiology and kinesiology can be advantageous. 

  8. Take a note of the positive steps forward. Take some time to celebrate and share your horse's healing process with trusted others. This will keep others abreast of how your horse is coming along, and it gives them an opportunity to support you better. The greatest friendships are forged in the deepest jungles. 

  9. Think outside the box. Veterinary medicine takes massive leaps forward every year. Look for solutions outside the "business as usual", and speak to leading edge veterinarians and bodywork professionals. Many of the veterinary breakthroughs are coming from human medicine. Keep your spirits up by remembering that there are probably tons of solutions to your challenge that you don't know about yet! Ask yourself: "What don't I know yet?!"

  10. Remember that your horse is one of your greatest teachers. They teach us  - Patience - How to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations - What it means to love unconditionally

Accepting and acknowledging your emotions when your horse gets injured is a vital part of the healing process for both you and your equine companion. By allowing yourself to experience your feelings and seeking support when needed, you can better navigate the emotional challenges that come with owning horses. Over time, as your horse heals and you recover emotionally, the disappointment will turn into wisdom. While you may not be there yet, hang in there. There are brighter days ahead. 

Hugs & love, Merja

About the author Merja is a HHHL Instructor. She earned her Equine Science degree in 1996. She worked as a Yard Manager on Paul Darragh’s farm, the Waterside Stud. Merja has trained and competed in dressage, eventing, and showjumping and she has been learning from Linda Parelli since 2008. Merja is an orthopedic massage therapist, a certified MBTI® Practitioner, and the author of the 4 People Within®, among other healing and development programs.


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