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May 1, 2011

Bill Northern Helps Calla's Dreams Come True

Animal communication is one of those polarizing topics—some people are vehement believers, others view it as a litmus test for insanity. I’ve used animal communicators before with decent results, so I guess you could say I’m a little to the left of sanity—not willing to stake my life on the fact that animal communication is possible but also not above utilizing some helpful tips, no matter the source.

We broached the subject of having renowned animal communicator Bill Northern (the subject of our April/May cover story in our digital magazine, The Chronicle Connection, available at chronofhorse.com/chronconnection) speak with a famous horse, but he said he prefers working with horses having some sort of problem. OK, we can definitely find one of those… Like my own 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare, maybe?

Calla’s problems include a mysterious on again, off again left hind soreness, a tendency to spook, spin and bolt when out hacking, and a serious disdain for all things dressage-related. All that being said, she’s actually a pretty good mare—she’s quiet and sweet, and she likes jumping. If only there was a way to help her understand how necessary flatwork is, to figure out what’s happening with that left hind, or to comfort some of her general insecurity. I thought Bill might be able to shed some light on Calla’s thoughts.

It turned out that Calla had a lot to say to Bill during our phone reading, and most of it seemed accurate for what I know about her personality.

A few bits of what he relayed made me sad (“She doesn’t know why you don’t go see her every day.” “She’s worried she won’t have this job tomorrow.”); some of what he said made me laugh aloud (“It doesn’t seem that you’re really good at dressage, and she’s saying it’s a waste of time.”); and some of it proved useful, like Calla’s/Bill’s advice for eliminating spookiness (“When you’re riding, you’re not always focusing on what’s going on. At least for a while, you need to really focus on what you’re doing, and where you’re going and what’s around you.”).

Then, when Bill went all the way around her body, starting on the right side, asking her about pain and finding very little, I held my breath until he got to her left hind leg.

“Oh,” he said, sounding a little alarmed. “Left hip isn’t so good. It’s not in the stifle. It’s a little tiny bit in the hock, but there’s nothing else terribly wrong. The big problem is right in that hip joint.”

That piece of information stunned me with its accuracy. Calla’s had almost every piece of that left hind X-rayed and ultrasounded, without much result. The only thing that really helped was acupuncture and chiropractic work, and my veterinarian had also said that it must be in the hip, somewhere, based on lack of other options. Calla seemed to be confirming that diagnosis—and keep in mind that Bill’s never met her, nor did I mention anything about a mysterious lameness.

After our conversation, I was willing to try to fulfill most of Calla’s desires. She wanted to know what she would be doing every day, preferably the day before she does it. Now I tell her, “Calla, tomorrow we’re going to do dressage.” Or jumping, or cross-country schooling, or whatever it is.

I felt a little crazy at first, but I have to admit that it seems to be working, and I even have my trainer doing it too. Now Calla routinely seems less flustered and more ready to get down to work right away. We do dressage outside of the ring more often, a compromise we reached about flatwork. I even tried her in a Happy Mouth snaffle because she said she wanted one, but only a few times because it wasn’t giving me the feeling I wanted. Calla gets to make some decisions, but, I decided, not that one.

I’m not sure if Bill made all the difference in my horse, but I do think there’s been a difference. Maybe it’s the placebo effect or a psychosomatic cure, but I feel like I have  a better connection with my horse, and I don’t see how that could ever be a bad thing. (Feel free to call me crazy now. I’ll be doing dressage in a field somewhere, wearing my tin foil hat.)

 
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