Welcome to Kirkland Clinical Associates. Dallas-Ft.Worth Metroplex

A Little Horse with A Broken Heart


By: Dan Kirkland

I was searching for a miniature horse to buy and train for our equine therapy program I drove from Dallas to Beaumont to look at a miniature horse named Glory. When I arrived in Beaumont the tiny three-month-old filly was alone in her stall, having just recently been removed from her mother for the first time. She was just old enough to begin eating solid food. She was afraid, pacing to and fro and whinnying sadly for her mother. I entered the stall with the lady who owned her. Glory stood close to her and settled quickly. I looked the little miniature horse over and decided that with proper training she just might be the right horse to use with children in my counseling practice.

I made the deal with the lady, wrote a check, and then placed a halter on Glory. She was afraid. She had never been led before. Nor had she ever left the comfort of familiar surroundings, equine friends, and her mother. I led her out of the barn. Immediately her mother ran close to the fence that separated her from Glory and nickered a sad good-bye.

I physically lifted Glory into the dark, cold trailer attached to my truck and closed the heavy metal door. When the door slammed shut I could hear her pawing and panting. But, I did not listen to her. I did not take into consideration what she was asking from me.

Several times on the nine-hour journey home I heard Glory whinny, no doubt calling her mother. My mind was on the road and on the 18 hours of driving. Occasionally I stopped to peak into the trailer to see how Glory was doing. I reached in to touch her and she quickly moved away from my hand. When we arrived in Dallas I opened the trailer. Glory saw a brand new world. A world with no mother, lady caretaker, familiar barn or pasture, and no well-known equine buddies.

My family led Glory out of the trailer and embraced her with soft hugs, kisses, and a gentle back rub. She made friends with them instantly. She hovered near them. She leaned into their bodies for comfort. She nervously allowed them to show her the new home we had prepared and the other horses that would soon befriend her. Although she readily gave my family her friendship, she was repelled by my very presence.

From then on, Glory treated my family like royalty. She ran across the pasture to greet them. She lingered by their sides. They literally moved her out of their way in order to walk in the pasture, at times. She loved them deeply, and they loved her. She loved to be with them.

But, Glory treated me differently. She was tentative in approaching me. She rarely allowed me to approach her. I was as kind to her as my family was when she allowed me to be with her, and I gave her respect and love. I fed her a special mix of feed, I trimmed her hooves to keep her feet healthy and her legs sound. I gave her baths and brushed her mane and tail. I gave her the best of veterinary care, and made certain that she was healthy and safe. I provided a very nice life for her. I was a very good friend to Glory. But, Glory was not always sure she wanted me to be her friend.

When I took Glory to schools and churches to work with children, she stayed close by my side. If I took a step she took a step. She leaned against me as I spoke to the children. She acted as if I was her very best friend. And, in those moments, with a room full of strangers, I was her only friend. So, she clung to me. But, when we got back home, she did not befriend me. She had other, better friends at the barn.

The story of Glory is the story of divorce and relationships. When she was a baby I disrupted her life by taking her from familiar surroundings and people and friends she loved. I provided an even better life for her. But, to Glory, that did not matter. She was angry with me and had trouble believing that I had her best interest in mind. Children who live through divorce feel those same feelings. And, with time, their feelings can change.

When I moved Glory from Beaumont to Dallas, I did not take into consideration her needs. I wanted to get there as quickly as possible and get home even more quickly. I thought only of my own needs. In divorce, our pain is so great we can sometimes see only what is inside of us. I wish I had stopped more often, allowed her to get out of the trailer and stretch, and provided her some nurturing and treats. I cannot go back and change that. I worked diligently to allow Glory to see me as a friend, showing kindness, putting no pressure on her, and rewarding every move toward befriending me.

Parents cannot change what they have done. But, they can change what they do. All of the wishing in the world will change nothing. But, parents can start fresh today doing what the child needs to do to heal.

When Glory and I visited schools clung to me. Sometimes any friend is better than no friend, I guess. Sometimes friends are like that.

Glory taught children about friendship. Glory taught parents how to take care of the emotional needs of children. If we listen to horses they can teach us many things. Today, Glory has returned to live with her mother and siblings in Beaumont, Texas. She appears happy and well adjusted. And, I am, too.