Jade is the challenging horse that we are getting ready to start.
Like the other horses that we are preparing to work with, Jade has had a long period not doing anything other than scaring people and finding things to get upset about.
We spent a little time getting a feel for Jade and how receptive she is to making a bit of a connection.
Keeping everything very relaxed we were able to make an informal assessment to help us decide our approach before starting anything more structured with her.
With Jade it was important to present an easy and non-critical environment where she could begin to learn that it was ok for her to be unsure, make mistakes, and ask questions.
After initial apprehension she breathed a sigh of relief and then sought out the acceptance and confirmation that she was being offered.
This was Jade's first step towards learning to learn.
Our aim will be for her to gradually relax into taking small steps of trying new things and enjoying the feeling of being right and being appreciated for her tries.
Here are some of the things we observed...
Sensitive But Fearful
Jade is incredibly sensitive but fearful with a developed instinct for fight rather than flight.
Her behaviour responses suggest that she has been subjected to harsh criticism and learnt to defend herself to the point of taking action before the perceived threat presents itself.
Jade panics if asked to do things not she is sure of, and stresses even more if she believes she has got something wrong.
Looking For A Leader
But behind this seemingly aggressive attitude is an insecure horse looking for a leader she can trust and relinquish unwanted responsibility to.
Jade wants to be a follower and her feeling that she needs to take the lead role in looking after herself just adds to her stresses.
Wanting Companionship And Contact
When calm and relaxed Jade seeks companionship and contact.
But this tends to be a short-lived as she checks herself and falls back into her learnt pattern of thinking.
Mainly the idea that this makes her vulnerable to the actions of unreliable and unpredictable humans.
With her history, its easy to understand why – its not her fault.
Lacking Social Skills
Sadly, Jade is also lacking social skills with her herd mates, swinging between harmony and disharmony.
The herd can also sense her periods of unpredictability, and when they do they are wary of being with her.
This creates an unfortunate cycle for Jade and her emotions.
She wants to be close but causes distance from others.
Anxiety is created all round.
Which all serves to reaffirm her conviction that there is something to be worried about.
Powerful, Fast, And Dangerous
Jade is a very powerful little horse with lightening quick, sometimes apparently illogical reactions.
With her fear and fight response, this is quite a dangerous unpredictable combination that has already had its victims, left bearing the scars and some hefty bruising.
If we can achieve the position of leader, serving her needs for security, trust and safety, then we will have a remarkable horse and bond capable of great things.
I have high hopes…she deserves the break and opportunity.