Toe-Toe's Story

My horse and I are skeptics, no doubt about it. She is a 29 year old American Quarter Horse mare filled with attitude and experience. An "old style" quarter horse, she weighed in at 1400 lbs in her prime, requiring extra wide saddles. Those seated in those saddles needed to be tenacious riders who were willing to deal with her brute strength and fiery temper. Her name is Toe-Toe and I am her guardian and companion. We have been together for 16 years and I have attempted to soften the defenses she built against physical abuse and multiple injuries received at the hands of other humans. Still, Toe is an independent, stoic and reserved soul.

Last autumn we faced one of our most difficult physical challenges. A small cut on her left hind hock appeared to have healed, only to one month later turn into a very serious joint infection. Toe could not walk. As we literally pumped antibiotics into her morning and night, she gave up eating and became listless and lethargic. She was exhausted and unable to find any comfort. One afternoon she folded her arthritic legs up and lay down in her stall, only to find her legs too weak to get back up. From that point on she would try to doze leaning up against her wall or resting upon her stall guard.

While the infection did clear, Toe's apathy did not. Weight continued to fall off of her. She would turn away from me as I entered her stall. In November her veterinarian and I candidly discussed the fact that the prospects of her making it through the upcoming winter were slim. Toe needed to begin eating, she needed to regain her strength if she was going to stay with us and frankly, she didn't seem to want to. We would give it a couple more weeks.

Frustrated and feeling as exhausted as my horse, I wanted desperately to provide her with relief. We had always used alternative treatments as compliments to her standard care. Chiropractors and acupuncturists had worked with her in the past, but I didn't think they would help now. She had a massage therapist for a period of time, but she was shrugging away from any physical contact at this point. I asked a friend if her mother, who practices Reiki, would consider working with a horse.

Joan Akkerman arrived at Toe's barn armed with some music and her hands. I explained Toe's situation, and outlined the fact that Toe was not terribly demonstrative so I was not sure what sort of reaction we would see. Toe was initially curious and then, as she realized that nothing was going to be asked of her, she began to relax. I watched a serene, petite woman stand next to my horse and lay her hands on her. Toe began to breathe long and slow, dropping her head into moments of slumber as she alternately rested her tired legs. As the hour passed, Toe roused herself once or twice to take a drink and nibble on her grain. Mostly, she rested. That we gave her even an hour of peace was wonderful, but the effects carried on much further. Over the next few days she remained relaxed and better tempered while putting more effort into eating.

Joan returned the next week and Toe really settled into her session with her. More food, more water. Stronger legs were evident. We collectively decided to take on the winter and see if we could make it through. Joan continued to work with Toe and the results were wonderful. After each meeting Toe would hold onto energy and have a greater appetite. Her depression was easing and while still not eating as much as she should, she was comfortable. No one who watched could refute the fact that some wonderful energy was being shared between Joan and my horse. Throwing dignity to the wind, Toe would relax to the point of drooling with her head down between her knees, an effect that until then, we had only been able to create with sedatives!!!!!!

Toe-Toe and I are now going to enjoy another autumn. She is no longer in a fragile state of health and is in fact steadily returning to her powerful self. We work under saddle five days a week to keep building back muscle and it is a joy to watch her gobble up her food once again. She is due for another "wellness" visit with Joan.

My horse and I are still skeptics; quite skeptical that we can ever be without the Reiki treatments delivered by Joan Akkerman!