Richard G. Petty, MD

Mr. Black

I have previously talked about working with animals for therapy. There is ever increasing evidence that animals experience emotion: no surprise at all to anyone who has ever spent any time with one.

Someone heard that I was in the market for a new horse, and since I’m six foot four, he or she needed to be big. So I was asked if I would be interested in meeting a horse called Blackie. At the time he was 22 years old, and until six months earlier had enjoyed a happy life, which had included being a calendar horse – he was once Mr. September in the Quarter Horse calendar! – a part in a movie, and competitions all over the country. Then tragedy had struck. His owner died under tragic circumstances and the horse was left in a field and forgotten. Soon the daughters of the owner came on the scene are were keen to find a good home for the horse. When I was asked if I would like to see him, my first question, was “Has anybody explained to the horse what happened to his human friend?”

So he was brought over for me to have a look at. What a sorry sight. He was quite obviously clinically depressed. He would not lift his head, his ears drooped, he walked as if he no longer had any will to move, his eyes were anguished and physically he was a mess. More than one hundred pounds overweight, his hoofs looked like old cracked ivory and he was covered in nasty looking skin lesions. So I climbed on him and took him out to a quiet place where I could talk to him. Once out of sight, I dismounted and started chatting with him. I told him what had happened to his last owner, who I was, and asked him if he would like to come and live with me for a while.

After a few minutes he lifted his head and started nuzzling me, which I took as a “Yes.” When we rode back together an hour later everyone asked what had happened? For now he had a spring in his step, his head was up, his ears forward and his eyes looked bright and shiny. Even his coat looked better. Over the next few weeks everyone at the stables talked to him, we gave him a new name, enthusiastic volunteers exercised him every day, he received Reiki, acupuncture and massages, and his skin lesions were treated with a homeopathic remedy called Thuja. He became everyone’s favorite horse and the new chief of the herd.

Now several years later he continues to get regular TLC and has the energy of a much younger horse. And now he is returning the favor. He has agreed to help provide therapy for the handicapped. “Agreed?” you may ask. Why yes: I wouldn’t dream of having him do anything without first asking him.

Equine assisted therapy is becoming popular and there is some good scientific research indicating its effectiveness. In the United States, the non-profit North American Riding for the Handicapped Association is a central coordinator of these programs, and their website contains a great deal of interesting and useful information. On January 29th, they will be launching a partnership with Animal Planet to produce two horse-themed programs.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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