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Majestic - as told by Jenny Susser.
United We Stand (barn name Majestic) is a Dutch Warmblood gelding, born in 2001. We imported him from Holland as a 3 year-old with just twenty rides under his belt.  He was coming along very nicely in his first summer with us, learning quickly and having fun.  During a hack in the field that first autumn, feeling playful, he leapt up with a twist and a buck which resulted in a significant injury to his sacro-iliac joint and right hip.  But he’s a horse who doesn’t complain, it took some time to understand the severity of his injury.  Then, it took more than six months to get an accurate diagnosis because of the nature of the injury.   

His rehabilitation took almost a year.  He was sometimes on stall rest for weeks, he did no work at all for months, and was poked and prodded at length.  He received ultrasound therapy, massage, and chiropractic treatments, which he seemed to enjoy.  But without his work he was bored, and the brightness in his eye slowly dimmed.

When his rehabilitation was complete and he returned to work, we noticed a new problem — he was not sweating.  Although it was summer, he remained completely dry, even under the saddle pad.  He was lethargic and very hard to get going.  He was no fun to ride and didn’t seem to be having any fun himself.  (This condition is known as “anhidrosis” which can lead to dangerously high body temperature, heat stroke and even death.)

We tried everything to help him.  Someone suggested that we give him German dark beer, so he had a beer with breakfast for months.  No sweating.  The vet suggested a supplement developed specifically for the non-sweating horse called One-AC.  No sweating.  We tried Chinese herbs and acupuncture — he sweated under the saddle for a few weeks, but then the sweating stopped again.  All the while, he seemed bored and uninterested in anything except grazing.

We called Shalini, she had helped with several other horses’ problems in the past.  When she asked Majestic if he knew why he wasn’t sweating, at first he said he didn’t want to talk about it.  He told her he felt like people thought he was strange and that his unusual condition was somehow his own fault.  I could feel his sadness so deeply, I wanted to cry.  I told Shalini to tell him that we think he’s wonderful and we want to help him.  Shalini said he changed the subject immediately and showed her his right hip.  She said that he didn’t show any current pain in that area, but she felt as if he was trying to re-direct the conversation to the site of the old injury. 

At the time of this conversation, he had been sound and working for months, so we were surprised to be directed to that area of the body.  He had been working in hand, preparing for a natural horsemanship clinic, and I had been noticing that when he was at liberty, he would happily leap and jump with strong, magnificent movements.  But his confidence would quickly disappear when the saddle came out.  I had been wondering what this all meant, and when Shalini indicated that Majestic seemed to be connecting his sadness with the injury site, it all came together in my mind!  

I asked if he had been frightened three years ago at the time of the injury and if he had been afraid to really use his body with a rider again.  It felt like a wave of emotion flowed over all of us!  Shalini was in tears as Majestic’s emotions shifted from deep sadness and long-held fear to relief and elation.  He had been hiding his physical talents all this time because he had been so scared and so injured — and I felt sure that his lack of sweating was due to the emotional stress caused by the fear and hurt. 

We acknowledged the pain and fear he had been enduring all this time and assured him that, with our help, he would be able to once again use his body while being ridden and feel safe and have fun doing it.  Shalini coached me on how to talk to him while he was working so he could keep his confidence up while figuring out a new way of using his body.  I was amazed at how he responded to my words, I’m sure that he really understood my encouragement.  He also began sweating immediately — from his first work session after our conversation!  A full lather along the neck and a soaked saddle pad during every ride!  After just two months, he participated in a clinic with a Pan American eventing gold medalist and the clinician was amazed at the strength and beauty of his movements. Majestic was finally beginning to use his body with confidence — oh yeah, and that sparkle in his eye has returned.

Update: 3 years later — Majestic was #1 in the USA in 2009 for all KWPN (Dutch Warmblood) registered horses at 1st Level and 10th overall (all breeds)!

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