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  • Kathryn Hulland

A Healing with Phantom


My first impressions of Phantom were that he is quite a worrier about things, he has quite an anxious aura about him and his eyes look worried. He feels very babyish still. He was very sensitive around his head particularly the left side. I did a bit of grounding with him initially which he did accept and relax into a bit but for the rest of the healing he was very in and out. He is a very clever pony with an extremely active mind and he isn’t good at not having something to think about when around humans, it’s like it is his coping mechanism if he can think about something he doesn’t have to focus so much on what’s going on inside as he lives on his nerves a little and it’s a way of overriding them.

There is a really fine balance with him between setting boundaries and saying no and using positive reinforcement to reassure him, if pushed at the wrong time he will react badly the flight mode kicks in and if he feels this isn’t an option then the fight mode will. As an example of this is how sensitive he is around the head area, he has a quick twitch and blink in the eye when he feels under pressure if this is noticed and pressure is taken off to let him breath and then go back slowly it is ok but if this reaction is missed and something he is unsure of is pursued it will result in the flight or fight reaction in him and if neither of these is an option he will internalise the feeling which then builds inside.

The problem is he does need to know his boundaries so it would be good for anyone doing work with him to spend some time with him on the ground being aware of his reactions, how to deal with each and giving him the chance to learn to trust, trust is a huge thing he needs and he wants to feel secure.

Phantom finds the end results of tasks ok – like tacking up for example once the tack is on – but will be a bit on edge as the task is done, once it’s done he can breathe and let go as control is taken over. He would always do well in a herd where he is not high up in the hierarchy as this too will mean he stays a bit edgy, once he relinquishes control he can relax but it is very hard for him to do this and let go. He may fidget, bite, move around when feeling anxious it is his way of making his feelings known and coping with feeling unsafe, the key is to try and spot the subtle signs before he gets to this stage so whoever has him needs to be able to do this.

I found during the healing he would start letting me in, start releasing a bit then jump back in to his head. When he did let me in there felt a deep sadness in him which in turn turned to anger and frustration coming out – this is good as it is a way of letting that emotion out. Horses don’t dwell on the past like we do but when certain things happen it will trigger old emotions and memories and so during the healing it is these we are trying to let go of to lessen reactions.

I really feel clicker training would work well with him, if things are forced on him he will remember but if done with positive reinforcement it will help him think about what is happening and accept it, he is a clever horse, a thinker and clicker gives his mind something to think about plus sets off positive feelings when something he isn’t sure about is happening. Doing it will also help build trust and a bond.

I wondered if his teeth were upsetting him a bit as kept getting drawn to the left jawline and he was sensitive here. I also saw him in a large field with others as a youngster. Additionally I got the feeling of him being trapped by ropes unable to get free, I could see leather straps around his belly and head, perhaps he has something put on him without the proper desensitisation when younger or it may be a metaphoric image of how he has felt.


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