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pip-paintingIt is an image which many, if not most or all of us who have anything to do with horses greatly appreciate. “Equus is stepping out nicely.” You can almost feel the energy of the movement conveyed in that utterance. It implies robust health, a vigorous stride and an energetic attitude reflecting physical well-being. The physical and the mental complement and enhance each other. And if we say this of a horse that is recovering from a serious injury, we might even add that, “Equus is moving forward smartly” or something to that effect. This is what we like to see in a horse, a predisposition for forward movement accompanied by a bright eye. We expect this of a horse that is physically and mentally fit. Yet not only does this condition denote good health, where it has been preceded by injury, it is also indicative of progress, of convalescence and of recovery. Which is all a bit of a roundabout way of saying that Pip and I are stepping out and moving forward.



There are very few horse carers who have not seen their equine friend come down with an injury. In some cases such an injury can be so serious that it causes your soul to cringe, albeit perhaps not immediately. Your first concern is to ascertain the extent of the injury, then to determine the most effective way of addressing it, followed by an almighty burst of energy to do just that. And it is then, when you finally have a chance to reflect, that the full impact of that injury rocks your being.

Shall we just hang out a bit today, love?

Shall we just hang out a bit today, love?

I must confess to having been pretty numbed by Pip’s tendon injury. On the face of it everything pointed to an unfortunate accident in the herd, a wrong move in difficult circumstances, perhaps in the deep, boggy mud that marked the gateway to the fields in which the horses were turned out every day. Yet there was always a nagging doubt as to whether I had not pushed Pip too far during our body balancing exercises in the manège. Was the sand too deep? Were the circles too tight? Should I have asked for canter? I roll these questions around in my mind and common sense dictates that the answer must lie in the negative, for did I not make a point of taking a break after each exercise, which usually lasted no more than about ten minutes? Did I not ensure that each session did not involve much more than about 40 minutes of actual movement, much of it at walk? And did I not confine body balancing sessions to no more than about two or three times a week offering variety in between?

Of course, as I have pointed out before, there is a temptation for such forms of reflection to become self-indulgent, especially if there is little point in them other than to try and exonerate oneself. This time, however, this reflection is pertinent, because I may find myself having to act on it sooner than expected. What is to be done, once Pip is fit enough to return to the herd?


Better than expected

We are now a little over two months since Pip came down with her tendon injury. Last Thursday the vet came round to check my mare and conduct a sonar scan of her injured tendon. His verdict? Pip is making better progress than expected. The swelling has subsided significantly, especially on the inside of the leg, the puffiness has disappeared and the lump itself has become more firmly defined. The scan reveals that the haemorrhaging has disappeared and that healthy tissue is growing. To me this was no more than confirmation of what I could see in Pip’s leg and in her eye, yet I found it very comforting to receive it from the conventional veterinary establishment.

Vicki performing Equine Touch on Anaïs. A move I perform on Pip for her tendon.

Vicki performing Equine Touch on Anaïs. A move I perform on Pip for her tendon.

It was only when such confirmation was forthcoming, that I revealed to the vet the holistic nature of the approach we had adopted. I told him that, apart from confining Pip’s movement and taking her for a therapeutic walk of up to 10 minutes a day, I am also trimming her hooves every fortnight to reduce the strain on her tendon as far as possible, as well as performing Equine Touch on her about twice a week and administering red light therapy for 15 minutes every day, not to mention the attention we devote to her nutrition. Naturally, it was reassuring to hear from the vet that he did not think red light therapy could cause any harm. I have since sent him links to the relevant online information, including the findings of scientific studies, for which he has thanked me. And so we can all help each other.


New challenge

In my last post (Touching a Tender Tendon in the Red Light District) I mentioned the additional benefits which Pip and Anaïs are deriving from this challenging situation. Both are becoming more independent of each other and Pip, in particular, is having to rely on her own inner strength.

In the past week my mare has come to experience a new challenge. It has taken the form of a new walk-in walk-out shelter which Paul, the owner of the livery yard, is building next door to her enclosure. As the walls have gone up, they have effectively blocked much of Pip’s view of the herd. This is occasioning some distress and is causing her to pace up and down more frequently.

In addition, I have had to confine Pip to a smaller area, because we have had a considerable amount of rain and parts of her enclosure have been reduced to a veritable mud-sucking marsh, so deep as to pose a clear and present danger to her tendon. This too has had the effect of limiting her view of the herd.


Favourable outlook

A new horse will be joining us within about ten days from now, roughly coinciding with the time when the new shelter is to be finished. Paul has kindly offered the use of the new facility to Pip and I have accepted on her behalf. The new horse will go into Pip’s present enclosure.

The concern which Vicki and I share at present in relation to my mare is whether she has an opportunity to lie down and sleep deeply. The container which serves as a stable in her enclosure is divided in two, which means that there is little space for her to do that. We are also a bit concerned that, if she were to roll, she might cast herself and become stuck.

The new shelter will provide a solution, because it will be big enough to allow my mare to lie down and even roll. In addition, it is situated in an adjoining enclosure which is even closer to the herd. This should help Pip to calm down as well. Between now and when the new shelter is ready will be a challenging time, if Pip’s performance in the past few days is anything to go by. Although I am trying to reassure her by being there for her, ultimately she is going to have to find it within herself to cope with her existing situation.


Equine Touch business

Some of you have been surprised to note that our Equine Touch business website, Humans for Horses, has only really featured Vicki in the past few months. Yours truly has been absent, while he should have been present.

The explanation is simple. There are times when having had legal training can get in the way of more important things. This was one of them. When presented with the Equine Touch licensing agreement, instead of simply signing it as everyone else does, I not only read it but came across a number of problems within it, which rendered it impossible for me to sign in good faith. Instead, I pointed out the issues to the relevant people and waited in the hope that we could resolve the matter.

The current Humans for Horses Equine Touch website at www.humansforhorses.com

The current Humans for Horses Equine Touch website at www.humansforhorses.com

This week the matter has been resolved. The licensing agreement has been updated, I have signed it and am now waiting to receive my practitioner pack. Vicki and I will be updating the website accordingly and our Equine Touch business, which has already started to get off the ground, should be powering along soon. If your horse has not experienced Equine Touch yet, do them a favour and arrange a session, if not with us, with another practitioner close by.


Walking meditation

Vicki’s mare, Anaïs, is displaying a level of independence and inner strength which I personally have been pleasantly surprised to see. Although she has no friend in the herd as close as Pip used to be, Anaïs is not as inclined to spend much time near Pip, as I thought she would. Instead, she goes her own way and is currently trying to ingratiate herself with the herd leader, a huge hulking gelding who seems to tolerate her presence but is definitely not besotted with her attentions.

Anaïs’ independence is also making it much easier for Vicki to work with her in the absence of any other horses. This represents a major improvement. What I especially appreciate are the walks in the forest with Anaïs. The experience is reminiscent of our walks with her when we only had one horse here in the Netherlands.

Andrew and Anaïs in the forest

Andrew and Anaïs in the forest

Last Saturday I got to take Anaïs out for a walk in the forest on my own. The temperature had risen and the sun was shining through the trees brightening the bronze carpet of leaves underneath our feet. As I walked, I consciously reverted to what I used to do with Anaïs in the past. I started by focusing my attention on my body as I moved and then, while retaining that awareness, extended it to include the huge physical presence at my elbow and then beyond to embrace the cocoon of nature through which we were moving. At a certain point my awareness extended to no more than the myriad of sensations within and without, accompanied by an almost energetic link to the mare beside me to the extent that any change in pace by either of us was almost automatically reflected in an adjustment on the part of the other. The sense of well-being arising from such an experience is almost intoxicating. Walking meditation. Stepping out and Moving Forward. Highly recommended!


The Smudge is Dead, Long Live the Smudge

Yesterday it was seven years ago that my dog, The Smudge, died. I buried him in a small subtropical forest on our property a little outside Byron Bay, Australia. The Smudge’s death was in many ways a turning point for me and helped me to focus on the new experience of being, which horses had begun to awaken in me a few months before.

This awareness is partly reflected in a picture book that I created to celebrate The Smudge’s life soon after. Its creation served as both a catharsis and a rebirth in a way, a terribly clichéd concept, I know but one which, like all clichés, contains an essence of truth. The Smudge died at midnight as Monday, 10 December 2007 expelled the Sunday in a violent storm. Writing from my puppy’s point of view, I told it this way:

I die just after midnight in the middle of the most terrifying storm. It’s a scene right out of the movies. Pa carries me from the vet out into the howling night. Rain splatters us both, lightning splits the dark and thunder echoes his bellow of grief. So it goes….

And yet The Smudge somehow lives on and, as he does, he gives joy to those who come into contact with him, as he did while alive:

I recycle the world’s joy in me and spread it where I can. It is a huge responsibility but I am willing to share it with you. Here, take it, play with it and pass it round!

If this too is a mission that touches your heart, please feel free to visit The Smudge’s home on the internet at www.thesmudge.net to pick up a free electronic story of joy. Take it, play with it and pass it round!

The Smudge's home on the internet

The Smudge’s home on the internet




Horses and Humans on Facebook

May I remind you that we now have a Horses and Humans group on Facebook. If you would like to leave a comment, you can do so on this blog or on the the Horses and Humans Facebook group page. All new posts will feature on that page along with additional content posted by any of our members. Please feel free to join us at:


There is also a Horses and Humans publications page, which contains information concerning the publications released under the Horses and Humans imprint. Some of those publications will be free of charge. You will find it here:


I also have a Facebook page through which you may contact me. You will find it at:



Equine Touch

Vicki is operating two websites for Equine Touch at present. Listed as Humans for Horses, you can find the ordinary website at:


and the Facebook page at:



2 Responses to “Stepping Out and Moving Forward”

  1. Dear Andrew,
    I am feeling happy for Pip and her human, Andrew, that both their healing processes are progressing so well….NAMASTÉ…

  2. Hi Andrew and Vicky

    What a beautifull story you tell about your dog The Smudge ,i have read it with joy and could feel how much you love him !
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    It is a bit hard for me to reed Englisch and take,s more time to translate it in Dutch ,but with a translation book it will do.
    The newsletter about Pip and Anais and everything else was also verry nice and regonizable .

    by by Yvonne