Have you said to yourself “Holy cow, my horse is crazy right out of the blue”?
Has it become down right dangerous to ride, and do not know when its coming?
Over the years I have worked with hundreds of traumatized horses, most of whom have suffered so much emotional and mental trauma some form or another. The amount of stress endured during the traumatic event affects the release of certain hormones that are responsible for creating the "flight or fight" response to stress. When horses have endured a very traumatic experience and are exposed to chronic stress, their normal feedback system (healthy release of adrenaline, chemicals) breaks down, just as ours does, leading them to experience PTSD.
The hippocampus, a horseshoe-shaped structure, is part of the limbic centre and is involved in several bodily functions including storing and retrieval of new memories and emotional responses. During a traumatic event, both Adrenaline and Cortisol are released into the body to prepare us for fight or flight. They are necessary for our survival. However, if these hormones remain in high concentration over an extended period, they become toxic to the hippocampus, damaging and destroying cells, proven in MRI-brain scans.
Horses suffering from PTSD have endured so much stress and constant adrenaline, they remain in a chemically-induced state of self-preservation where both Adrenaline and Cortisol are released in large amounts. This is damaging on a chemical and emotional level. Neurologically the horse continues to release hormones that “trigger” them into constant fight and flight. This leaves them emotionally unbalanced as they cannot differentiate between what’s really happening and what has triggered a memory. When this occurs, the horse becomes hyper-vigilant, distrustful, unreachable. The encouraging thing is you can. Simply back off and help your horse overcome this debilitating neurological disorder with certain exercises. With a lot of time, understanding and patience, that do NOT encourage pain or fear.
by: Katherine Barbarite of Whispering Hooves