Piper Pony came to the ranch through a horse rescue organization in central Wisconsin. How we ended up with her is nothing short of being God’s hand as ponies are tough to come by. It didn’t take much at all for us to determine she would be a good fit for the ranch and we were excited to share her with the kids!! However, as time passed we saw this little mare become ever more agitated, even to the point of nipping and occasionally a quick bite. Yet there was something about her that kept letting us know that inside there is a great horse…but she was blocked from being free.
Piper has a scar on her chest, her hair doesn’t grow well there and it is one of the spots that she protects with pinned ears and quick nip motion, if she’s not heard she will bite. A while back I also found that rubbing her neck brought a similar response. Since her arrival we’ve been working with her, retraining her and helping her to understand what Crossfire Ranch life is like for her, it’s gentle, respectful, kind and cares about her thoughts, opinions and well being as well.
I’d been seeing her “snake” her neck when she would romp in the arena. Horses can’t speak of course, but they are communicating all the time…and although there is an awful lot I don’t know, I do know that this can be a sign of pain. When Trent, the barn manager, said he was having a chiropractor out to the barn I jumped on the opportunity to have her seen. I was curious about how she would react when he worked on her… would she try to nip, would she kick-out? As he observed her it became clear to his trained eyes that she was rigid in three areas. Piper didn’t have the sway & swagger that comes with ease of movement. Dr. Steel began working and feeling with his hands from the head to her hips. He adjusted her pole area, then moved down to her neck where he paused asking, “What trauma has she faced?”
We don’t know much of her back story and nothing about her scars, physical or otherwise. We only see the resulting behaviors.
He realigned two side-by-side vertebrae in her neck…a situation that typically is a result of a trauma. When he worked on her withers he handed me her lead rope and said, “She might not like this.” I held her fairly close to her halter and put my other hand under her jaw. As Dr. Steele adjusted her, I could literally feel her simply release. Her head melted into my hands and she just stood there. Even in writing this I can feel her huge relief wash over my shoulders and down my back.
Dr. Steele moved to her hip area, again letting me know that she might not appreciate the initial movement. He adjusted the area twice and Piper’s response was the same calm “thank you” that she had shown when he had worked on the rest of her. There was nothing threatening, only much relief in the hands of this new person. She stood with her head completely relaxed gently toward the arena floor as if saying “Thank you”.
A few days later I brought little Miss Piper into the arena and oh my goodness there was so much difference in her. She has an airiness in her step and way about her that is so much more comfortable. We had been working through the emotional piece and now the physical piece has also given way to the horse that was stuck.
We are no different. We get stuck in various kinds of pain…but we don’t have to stay there. Nor do our kids.
We have a great physician. He is the healer of brokenness and the restorer of lasting hope. He is gentle and only gives His best through His wisdom, grace and love.
As we shoulder with our kids and families at the ranch it is through His love we see lives change. Behaviors are an indication of what’s going on inside. They can be a result of poor nutrition, brain health, past or present crises, trauma and abuse. But there IS hope and there IS healing.
Just like with little Piper Pony, every kid and every adult we have the privilege to spend time with at the ranch it is a joy to journey the path of Hope & Healing and see the beautiful unfolding…a revealing of God’s handiwork that has gotten layered upon by various circumstances. We all need to be heard patiently, accepted for where we are at currently, and find where “stuck” is for us. The path out is a little different for everyone is unique, but the path is there to walk if we choose or are given a chance.
May your hearts be blessed beyond measure as you walk with Jesus.
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