Flight, Fright, Fears, Flowers & Relationships

by Barbara Volk ©2009
snakedauter @ earthlink.net

As horse owners, we will always be dealing with the issues of flight, fright and fears. Horses, as we all know are prey animals with an instinct to flee at the first sign of perceived danger.

We humans, being predators, but with a large mental capacity, can develop an intellectual knowledge of the flight instinct through observation and experience. While I believe that we cannot truly understand what it is like, on the deepest level, to be a prey animal, I think that if we can recognize fear in the horse and learn to understand what it comes from, we can do something about it.

Flower Remedies are one tool that we can use in our Holistic approach to developing a state of equilibrium within our horse & human relationship. The essences will help to relieve deep-seated mental and emotional fears in our horses and ourselves. They will not however replace the daily work required for a healthy relationship with your horse.

The first step before ever even considering a flower remedy for fear issues is to be sure that your horse is not experiencing any kind of pain. Where there is pain, there is fear. Remember that because they are prey, a horse that shows weakness from pain, in their mind, is likely to be someone's' dinner. They hide their pain very well and by the time they allow us to see the signs, their discomfort is considerable.

So if you have a horse that is having fear problems, begin with a thorough vet check/health exam, including nutritional analysys, chiropractic, dental and podiatry. Once you are sure there is no pain, we can move on to mental and emotional issues.

A very important thing to remember is that horses are aware of things that our senses cannot even begin to be conscious of. I can't emphasize enough that you must pay attention to what your horse is telling you in every given moment.

How do you determine what your horse's fears are?

Do you know your horses' history? Try to acquire as much detail as possible. I believe that horses have very long memories, and that some of those memories, abuse and neglect being all too common examples, can come back to haunt them.

Consider your own fears. Our horses will reflect our mental and emotional states back to us.

Careful observation is the key to deciding which flower remedy or combination is the best choice. It is good to take notes each day and compare them over the course of a minimum of one week.

How much time does your horse spend in a stall? How much turn out does he have, how large is his turn out area and does he have other equine companions?

How does he react when you first approach him? How does he react when other people and other horses approach him?

How does he respond to desensitizing routines?

Is he head shy? Can you touch him all over? How does he behave when you pick up his feet? This is very important because when you pick up a horses foot you are putting the horse in a most vulnerable position.

Are there specific situations or objects that cause a fearful response?

Do some groundwork with your horse, simple excesrizes like walk-stop-back up, again paying very close attention to what he is telling you, and again keeping notes. A round pen is better for this because some horses are so conditioned to the halter that you can get false indications, and in the RP, at liberty, you can get a much better idea of how well you communicate with your horse, and whether you understand what your horse is telling you.

A misunderstanding in communication or lack of consistency on your part can also elicit a fearful response. You need to be very sure that what your mind thinks you are asking your horse to do is what you are really asking. The horses understanding of body language is so far beyond what we verbal humans can truly relate to, that we must diligent in noticing what our body language is saying to our horses.

The Flowers for Fears

Rock Rose:

This is one of the flowers in rescue remedy. It is used for emergency situations that seem hopeless. For fears related to sudden illness where the horse is frightened and where the people or other animals around are also frightened. Where there is hysteria or a panic situation such as rearing where others could be in danger.

In this type of situation you must remain calm. Here is an example of something that you can't fix while it is happening. You must simply defuse the situation and restore calm. Your goal is to keep this kind of event from happening.

As part of your regular routine, teach your horse to drop his head. Do this using a rope halter. Apply gentle steady pressure with just your thumb and forefinger at the join of the halter and lead. The instant the horses' head drops the slightest bit release the pressure. Literally let go of the halter. Wait 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Practice this until your horse drops his head to the ground with just slight pressure to the halter. Why does this calm a horse? I have heard it said that it releases endorphins, and it is the grazing position. A horse with his nose to the grass is a horse that feels safe and calm.


This is the remedy for fear of known things. For the horse that is afraid of shadows, gates, dogs, saddles, having feet trimmed, being clipped, crossing bridges etc. for the horse that is timid it will help him find courage. Look for flaring nostrils, blowing and restless pacing.

Here is the situation where desensitization comes into play. Most horses that have 24/7 turn out have the opportunity to get used to many “scary things”, but even these animals may not have enough variety to develop the casual attitude that we desire.

A horse in a stall has very little occasion to experience different objects and often the initial response to anything new is fear.

When introducing new items whether in a round pen or on the lead, always let the horse make the first decision to investigate. If he feels he needs to retreat, allow it. At some point he will decide it is no big deal, will probably nose at it and might even pick it up and play with it.

I prefer this method to “sacking out”, where the horse is not given a choice in the matter. The long -term effect of sacking out will result in a desensitized horse, but it will undermine his trust in you.

You can easily create situations around your barn that your horse must encounter on a daily basis. Hang plastic grocery bags and aluminum pie plates where they will flap in the wind (only in an open and safe situation where no one can get injured). Keep a tarp over the fence where your horse has daily turn out and sometimes throw it on the ground, walk around it and over it.

If you trail ride on multi-use trails, have a field day. Invite, hikers, bicyclists, and ATV users. Teach them about how horses respond to unknown things and give your horse an opportunity to meet these “predators”.


This essence is for vague and unknown fears. Aspen is the best flower for the “spooky horse”. There seems to be no explanation, just a feeling that something might happen and for feelings of distress and anxiousness that you simply can't pinpoint. Look for cowering, sweating, and trembling as indications.

Use this essence for the high- strung horse that refuses to do what is asked providing that there is no miscommunication.

With this horse you must gain his trust. Because there is no specific source of focus for his fear, he must trust you enough to turn to you in any given situation, rather than relying on his instincts.

The inside turn is about trust. Work in the round pen to get consecutive, consistent and willing inside turns.

Red Chestnut:

Worry and fear for others is the indication for this remedy. This is the remedy for the horse who is overly protective of her baby, or a companion and who will worry when his companion is gone. Often horses will pick up this fear from their owners.

Separation anxiety can be a common experience for herd animals, and this is another situation where earning your horses trust is important. Once that is established, spend time gradually separating the horse from his object of worry.

Each time the horse returns and finds his companion safe; the memory that everything is OK begins to be established.


This is the flower for lack of self-confidence or the “spacey air head” horse and for a horse that hesitates in making decisions. A lack of self-confidence will cause a horse to not be able to make decisions for itself, which sometimes may be important. Cerato can also be used for the horse that has a lack of social behavior.

All of the above activities will help to develop self-confidence. However, in our quest for “better relationship” with our horses, people are too often having one-sided conversations, always telling the horse what to do. Please remember to allow your horse to actively participate in the relationship.


This flower lives up to its name. It is the essence for a horse that is easily annoyed and intolerant. The horse, who won't stand still for saddling or mounting, pushes through gates, rushes back to the barn and eats too quickly, is an impatiens horse. These horses tend to always be in a hurry and therefore often make mistakes. Impatiens is also a great remedy for you when you are feeling impatient with your horse.
Impatiens is another of the flowers in rescue remedy.

Our horses can learn to be patient with us. After all, even the most intolerant horse will stand quietly while munching grass.
In the round pen, ask your horse to walk quietly on the rail and stop. Some horses have a hard time slowing down. This is where your patience comes into play. This also is where you come to understand how well you communicate. If he refuses to slow down, it is very likely that you are putting too much pressure on him.

Once you have a nice quiet walk, ask for a stop. When you get the stop turn away and walk to the other side of the RP. If he moves go back to work and make him move faster. Slow things down again, and repeat this process until your horse will stand quietly as long as he is asked to.

Flower essences can be combined, but I prefer, when possible, to use a single remedy, and to target as specific an issue as possible. You will often find that as an essence begins to have an effect, the first layers (the most superficial) of mental and emotional imbalance will be relieved and the deeper issues will then come to the surface. As each layer is released, the horse will develop a greater state of equilibrium. You will find that this is also true in the process that you and your horse experience in learning from each other.

Flower therapy is not a “quick fix”. To use them and achieve results you must be committed to the time it takes for healing to occur, considering how many of the fears we are trying to resolve took a long time to develop. The time and manner of healing is different with every animal and every person. The effort is well worth the final result of mental and emotional balance, which will contribute to a more fulfilled and overall sense of well being for you and your horse in relationship.

©2009 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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