Beyondpondering's Weblog

Northwest Arkansas Therapy

Tradition is the enemy sometimes: Reactive Attachment October 23, 2008

I took my dog to our Veterinarian one day.  She was curious about the philosophy I was trained in.  I tried to explain in a way fellow therapists would understand.  I noticed that blank, far away look in her eyes as she cocked her head a little to the side.  I knew she was a horse lover so I mentioned the “Horse Whisperer”.  Not the movie, but the man the movie was based on. Then an “OH !” came from her, with sudden understanding.

When I got home I Googled, “Frank Bell Horse Whisperer.”  I found his site and found a Kindered Spirit.  His site was so on target to understanding our kids… he understands his horses.  It turns out that he often does fund raisers to help children.  He will teach his Horse Whispering to people to raise money for equine therapy for children.

I emailed Frank Bell and told him the story about the vet.  I explained the gentle methods which I was trained in by Post and Forbes.  Just like the horses, our kids are hard wired for survival and repond very much in like manner: Hyper-vigilant to sights and sounds, startling at the slightest thing, often resisting the one who intends to help them.  I asked him if I could use some of his training videos to help people to have compassion for our kids……to understand they are really scared and fearful.

The kind gentleman that he is, responded to my email personally.  Not an “auto-reply” generated by a web host.   He too understood the philosophy of Post and Forbes and their gentle methods.  He gave his blessing for the work I do to help the children and gave permission to refer to him and his videos.  He said he would send me one of his Videos.  I got A Day in the Life of a Horsewhisperer.    

Now I would like to include some information I presented at an adoption conferance in Northwest Arkansas.  It is about Frank Bell and his philosophy.  It is my hope, that perhaps, the use of different words or scenarios can help parents, caretakers, and therapists to gain a compassionate view of Rad Children.

Frank Bell’s horse training philosophy is refreshingly unique in that it encompasses a much bigger picture of the horse. In this day and age of hurrying, seeking immediate gratification, and take, take, take, he has chosen to do nothing but give to his horses—until they are ready to give back to him—willingly, happily, and eagerly.

Since the horse’s predators were among the fastest creatures on the planet and in the case of wolves and man, they were also the smartest—most cunning predators, the horse needed incredible instincts to survive. Their survival is proof that they posses these instincts.

To counter the stealthy stalking of their enemies, horses developed one the most sensitive alarm systems in nature. The slightest perception of an unnatural movement can trigger the flight response which for countless millennia enabled the horse to escape the stealthiest cats, the most cunning wolves, and smartest humans.

The horse is an exquisite sensory system of nerves which culminate into a hair-trigger alarm system, which when activated, releases an explosion of energy channeled into an instantaneous flight for survival. The horse is naturally fearful.

Tradition is the enemy of progressive horse training methods. ” Grandpa treated his horses this way and we do it the same,” is the lame excuse that pervades the old school of rough horse treatment. Pain and intimidation have been the backbone of horse training methods for centuries.

The focus of Bell’s training is on the development of a “safe” relationship with the horse.  Without using force or other common strong-arm tactics, Bell develops a foundation of trust upon which all further development must be built. He transforms the horse’s distrust into trust.

Taking the time to love on the horse pays big rewards only minutes later as the horse eagerly chooses to give back and enjoy performing and engaging with the human. It is truly magical.

A kinder, gentler way of relating to horses and all living creatures.  Bell’s message truly applies to all walks of life from family to business and most importantly to relationships.

Blessings.  Susan



6 Responses to “Tradition is the enemy sometimes: Reactive Attachment”

  1. Cyndi Says:

    First, thank God for Tag Surfer!

    We just had two of our three children diagnosed with PTSD and RAD and I’ve been looking for something, anything that would help us. I was raised as a military brat so this is very new to me but it makes so much sense. We raised German Shepherds before fostering and fear and intimidation only makes violent dogs. People don’t realize that GSDs are the biggest babies (next to Rotties) on the planet. One of the questions I have to ask every person who comes in my house is “do you smoke?” because my oldest pup was abused with cigarettes and will go into crisis mode if she smells smoke.

    It turns out my two oldest kids are much the same. The smell of a hospital will send my daughter into panic attacks and just the month of October seems to cause dissociative states. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to yell at the pup for being upset at something that understandably causes her distress – why would it make sense to yell at the kids for acting out of a stress reaction?

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