Healing connection with animals

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So often in my life, when missing my kids at university, I have cuddled up with my dogs and thought, “gosh I am so grateful for them.”

We have all heard the term that “dog is a man’s best friend.” Their unconditional love and loyalty are a deep connection beyond words but communication transferred with looks, licks and body language. Certainly, cat lovers out there would say the same.

But loving and healing connections are certainly not limited to house pets.

Mid-2019, a local family went to horse auction. They weren’t looking to bring any home but attended to support a friend, give a little love to the horses and pray for the ones they can’t help. “It’s never easy,” said Gillian Bowery Parkhill.

Something drew her daughter Brenna to the pens that day. Brenna put out her hand and a chestnut mare had come forward and placed her head in Brenna’s hand. Gillian reminded her daughter, they were not there to get a horse. Especially this thoroughbred chestnut. They have a bad reputation for being moody and challenging, shared Gillian. Reading her blurry lip tattoo, it was determined she was 22 years old and they felt that she certainly looked it. Swollen legs, scalped forehead, a cut on the top of her head bleeding down her face. She was a mess.


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But something sparked between them. Brenna was drawn to the horse and the horse drawn to Brenna.

The parents decided that despite undeniable connections and the plentiful tears shed, they had no place for the horse to stay and it wasn’t feasible.

As synchronistic as life can be sometimes, just as they were saying their goodbyes, an acquaintance came a long. A long story short, the acquaintance had an empty stall that could house the horse.

The horse, named S’mores, needed time to heal mentally and physically. Worst case she could hopefully be a pasture ornament. Best case, she might be sound enough for Brenna to hop on with some re-training and just do light rides around the farm.

Gillian shared that S’mores has never been easy. She’s got baggage and scars and needs to be bubble wrapped to keep safe. She’s delicate and feisty and has been through more than they know. But, her saving grace is how much she loves Brenna and how much Brenna loves her.

Even when she forgets and does bad things, the horse is always sorry and never repeats a mistake. She’s learning. People haven’t always been nice to her. She’s learned to fight rather than flee because she had to.

It has been a year and half now since this connection happened. Expectations have been obliterated. S’mores is learning to jump. She is learning to trust. She is learning to have faith in Brenna.

All the living beings in this true-life story have learned about compassion, loving-kindness and connection and how that can be truly healing.

Mom Gillian says while everything is shut down Brenna can’t attend school or see friends, but gets to go to the barn and work and spend time with her horse.

The healing connection she shares with this animal is unshakeable, even in a shaky world.

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