Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Free-Floating Anxiety

Silk got very agitated yesterday. I can't figure out why. She and Siete were out in the pasture, calmly nibbling bits of grass between the patches of ice. Some people drove up to my next door neighbor's house, and Silk became riveted like a frozen statue. Then, she took off, racing around on the icy ground, snorting and looking wild eyed. I was worried that she'd fall again, but assumed that whatever had spooked her would go away in a few minutes.

It didn't. Her anxiety continued the rest of the day and into the night. She paced her stall and the corral. When I tried to soothe her, she arched her body away and stiffened up. Her eyes, which are normally soft and relaxed, were tense and wild. I kept coming out to the barn every few hours to check on her. I put my hands on her neck and withers and took long, deep breaths to calm both of us. By bedtime, she had eased up a little. This morning, she seems back to normal.

Last Spring, a similar mystery occurred. In the middle of the night, Silk got freaked out by who-knows -what and bashed her head into the back of the stall. She cut herself just over her eye badly enough that I had to call the vet. The barn, which had been a real safe haven for her, was suddenly a scary place. After a few days, as quickly as her anxiety had come on, it disappeared. I thought maybe a wild animal like a buck or coyote might have frightened her.

I have to admit there was some free-floating anxiety that I was wrestling with myself yesterday. As I led my horse from the pasture to the barn, I wondered if her emotional radar was so finely tuned that I had transmitted my worries onto her. Her behavior forced me to really calm down and get centered. Whether or not this was the cause, Silk and I both benefited from my awareness. Today is a better day.

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