Sensitivity and Savvy:

Jennifer Arnold Shares her Amazing Success
Healing Animals with Flower Essences

interview by T. M. D'illon

"Good training doesn't have to sacrifice a good relationship with your pet or animal,"  proclaims Jennifer Arnold, a Washington state animal behavior consultant and flower essence practitioner.  "I have been using flower essences and homeopathy for personal use and on my own animals for 14 years with great success, and for the last decade to help clients, and I am constantly amazed at the positive response from even the staunchest of pragmatists."

Tennessee Walker Steps Out

In a recent example, Jennifer shared with FES the case of "Majestee," a 3 ˝ year-old Tennessee Walker mare who was extremely resistant to any training whatever.  After two weeks of flower essence therapy, the mare's behavior improved dramatically.

"The trainer had known this horse since birth and believed that Majestee was the worst case she had ever seen of a horse being so shut down, so resistant to training, so adamant about showing her distaste with the whole training process,"  Jennifer described.  "Majestee would not participate in round-penning exercises as a young horse in training."

Round-penning involves the handler working an untethered horse in a circular pen.  Techniques differ, but generally the handler manipulates his or her body and moves throughout the space.  This takes the horse from a point of fear and resistance through a process where the herding instinct takes over and makes the horse want to be near the handler.  And it bestows a position of leadership to the handler.  This bonding technique puts a little nonphysical stress on the animal because the handler will walk in circular paths and make the horse constantly make choices - it can choose to run away from the handler, it can choose to be near.

Because the pattern of movement is round, the horse will choose to move back and forth and go in circular patterns which always bring it back to the choice - does it want to be near this person or turn around and back up?  If the horse runs away, its actions bring it right back to the handler.  Normally what happens, depending on the temperament and experience of the animal, the horse will eventually come right up to the center and meet with the person.  It's a process of getting the horse to make a commitment to engage with the handler.

Majestee was described as having no allergies, no chronic health problems, no sound sensitivity.  She wasn't picky. Majestee didn't exhibit any other anxiety-related behaviors or self-injurious habits.  She wasn't fighting with other horses.  For whatever reasons, she just did not enjoy working with people or the training process.

Majestee's stride was tighter and shorter than it should've been for a Tennessee Walker. She held her ears back permanently when people were around her. She flicked her tail profusely when she was being worked with, which was interpreted as her refusing to participate — a real stubbornness and expression of her opinion of the whole process.  But she did not display any self-abusive behavior, no repetitive head-rocking or leaning.

"Majestee's anxiety just put her in a state of resistance rather than expressing it in another kind of behavior,"  Jennifer explained.  "Her trainers are good, topnotch people with a huge reputation to uphold.  They are at the forefront of training Tennessee Walkers and they really understand them.  And although they are compassionate and loving to their charges, they do not readily recognize fear or emotional pain behind a horse's refusals or learning difficulties."

According to Jennifer, although they had employed chiropractic, acupuncture and massage work on their horses, the trainers were not fully open to energetic therapies.  "They were skeptical about using a homeopathic stress-relieving product I had sold to their neighbor.  They had tried some other mainstream herbal products with limited results and some undesirable side effects.  But after witnessing that the neighbor's horse showed an obvious interest in taking oral doses of this product, and after seeing the resulting benefit, they became more open to trying a flower essence blend with their training challenge, Majestee."

Jennifer started Majestee's treatment using Five Flower Formula for a few days, while preparing her first blend. "I had the trainer just give Majestee a squirt on a handful of grain.  The trainer had already expressed to me that she wouldn't have time to measure out drops, and most likely couldn't fit in three doses per day.  The horse almost immediately became more receptive to taking direct oral doses and started to show some early behavior changes, so the trainer developed a welcome enthusiasm for the flower essence therapy process."

She also suggested the trainer put some of the blend in her hands and massage it into the horse's muzzle, ears and abdomen, or a favorite rubbing spot like on the forehead or behind the ears.  This also had the benefit of allowing the trainer to be exposed to the same essences as Majestee.  "I believe it is a very important piece in the animals' treatment to get the person handling them to get through some of their own issues and to be on the same level a little more — so there isn't the ‘us and them' phenomenon going on,"  Jennifer said.

"I felt this horse's problems seemed inherently related to the trainer's points of view and approaches to her,"  she continued. "I knew I was not going to convince them to take blends themselves at that point, so I did my best to try out a full, well-rounded formula in order to make a better assessment."

Jennifer chose six essences for this blend:  Mustard (to restore emotional equanimity and remedy generalized depression, and because the trainer felt there was a hormone imbalance component), Rock Water (to restore flexibility and adaptability, also to remedy stubbornness and defensive behavior, and in case there were any pain elements to Majestee's resistance), Wild Rose (remedies resignation and apathy and restores joy in life; helpful for animals who are chronically indifferent or unresponsive to training or unwilling to participate), Willow (to release resentment and restore good temper and to help overcome feelings of powerlessness), Water Violet (for reserve and aloofness; restores social contact; is helpful for animals who resist training), and Mallow (remedies social insecurities and fears, restores trust and feelings of safety among others; allows the warmth of social exchange to encourage greater social involvement — a softening essence). See Jen's fuller essay on the importance of using Mallow flower essence for animals.

"Now that my practice has grown to helping clients around the world, I do not often get to have in-person contact with the individual I am treating like I had in the past. Before, when I was giving in-home pet behavior consultations, I was able to watch the behavior and emotional response to stimuli firsthand. Now over the phone or e-mail I am having to ask more questions of the owners and trainers to try to dig for clues which identify specific issues to address with flower essences. I take notes during client interviews and jot down my initial ideas about appropriate essences as I go. My years as an animal behavior consultant have provided me pretty good intake skills, especially since an owner's perspective of an animal's emotions might be subjective to a certain degree. When I begin to work on the staging and approach of my treatment plan for a client, I go into a focused state of full concentration on that individual, picturing it and attempting to get a deep sense or feeling of the underlying emotional issues. I also get great suggestions from fellow practitioners. What I love the most about the many essences from which we have to choose is that we, as practitioners, can pinpoint our treatments to benefit an animal or person on very specific levels or layers. I think this is incredibly valuable."

Within only one full week of treatment with the custom blend, the trainer called Jennifer and reported, "It's a miracle! I am really shocked! I can't believe the change in Majestee."

Jennifer expressed some relief. "I was very pleased and a bit amazed myself that there had been such an immediate turnaround in Majestee's behavior. It appeared that the horse was feeling happier and that the training relationship was already improving. I knew my window of time in which to gain the willingness of the trainer to try essence therapy was limited, so the pressure was on. Thank goodness for the essences!"

Although initially reticent, and in doubt that she would be able to give regular doses, the trainer claims that once she starting seeing the changes, she made a commitment to giving Majestee at least three doses per day.  She gives it directly into the horse's mouth, and says the mare comes up to her and opens wide on her own for it. This is a horse who, previously, would never approach people, even for treats. The trainer reports for the first time ever Majestee had no hormonal problems or bad emotional phases during her last heat cycle.

Majestee is now healed to such an extent that she will actually come over to a person and initiate nuzzling and playing. Her stride has relaxed and lengthened and she is actually beginning to participate in the training. "This knowledgeable horse breeder and trainer has been working all over the country and claims to have never seen a horse so unhappy and uninvolved in life before this one, and did not imagine such rapid and dramatic change was even possible. I believe this will lead to helping many more horses with flower essences,"  Jennifer concluded.

Five Flower Formula Gets The Goat... Calmed Down

"Goats are very scheduled animals,"  Jennifer said.  "They like things to be regular and predictable and they don't like to be set on different schedules for the most part.  They're very caprine in nature, very headstrong, demanding... Rock Water types."

Jennifer describes some goats as so dependent on the ritual of life that if anything unusual upsets their daily pattern — such as a regular checkup or being transported somewhere for breeding — they can become extremely upset.  Some suffer stress-related illnesses as a result of this sensitivity. "I personally keep my goats on their toes, so to speak, by having them learn to adapt to changes in routine as a way of life, but this is not always possible on larger farms."

Some goats seem to be Agrimony types,"  Jennifer said.  "Other than trying to convince their caretakers that they are chronically starving to death, they don't outwardly show their angst — when anxious, they freeze and wait to see what the general consensus is among the herd.  They pretend that they are handling things in a calm way.  You'll hear a snort or two and hoof stomps, but the tension builds and eyes get wide.  When I work with goats I see this tension come up and I can tell they want to trust the handler — but they trust themselves over anyone else.  They get anxious and go into a panic mode where they are looking for any chance to escape, a loose rope, an open gate - even if they trust their handlers. I think this is a herd animal survival mechanism."

Jennifer recommends Five Flower Formula for such transitional times.  "If you need to transport the animal, or get it into a trailer, if there is a new veterinarian involved, or an unusual procedure, Five Flower Formula seems to help quell the panic and general tension in the goats.  With my goats, if I know that something is coming up for them, I start treating them with the Five Flower Formula in their water bucket and grain a few days before.  Then right before transporting them, or proceeding with hoof trimmings and wool stripping, I'll give them Five Flower Formula directly and I'll take some myself, so as not to trigger any emotion in them. For particularly sensitive individuals, regular treatment might include Walnut and Rock Water to help the goats adapt faster to transitions and change."

Emma Peels Away Toughie Facade

Jennifer said she has been very impressed with the positive effects of Oregon Grape with aggressive dogs and felines.

"Oregon Grape is a wonderful, wonderful essence.  It does exactly what it's supposed to do.  I see it as a different essence than Mallow but the two can be combined really nicely depending on the individual. You can see Oregon Grape behavior in dogs and cats, when their paranoia of expected hostility increases upon the approach of a stranger, and instead of risking vulnerability, they're out there on the edge, feigning ferocity."

Jennifer recalled the case of a cat who adapted to a new family dynamic with the help of Oregon Grape and Mallow.  For two years "Emma" never seemed to adapt to her new home and life with other dogs and cats, in an active family with no children. She had been found abandoned in an apartment and was adopted by this family from animal control emergency services when she was five weeks old.  She had a chronic urinary tract infection for the first year.  She was very stressed out... scared to go outside, scared to do anything.  Although Emma was generally fearful and "schizoid," she still would come out into the fray and create conflict, with a bad attitude.  This behavior would get the desired response of having the other animal or person back off.

"The first treatment bottle I blended for Emma had Oregon Grape as the proactive essence,"  Jennifer recalled.  "I thought there might be some early feeding and nurturing issues in Emma's life along with the need for family bonding, so I selected Mariposa Lily. Along with Aspen and Mimulus for the fear issues, I also used Walnut for completing the transition into the household."

In general, for the whole family, Jennifer suggested Five Flower Formula for stressful times.  "The Oregon Grape had a really nice effect but Emma still wasn't ‘warm and fuzzy.'  She still had to let go of the walls she had around her.  She wasn't creating conflict with others as much — the Oregon Grape seemed to work beneficially for her — but after five weeks, when we added Mallow to the second treatment bottle, we had a really nice change which happened fairly quickly. Emma really seemed to soften up.  That rough edge — a shell that was coating her interactions with other animals — really started to melt away.  We immediately saw her warming up inside — she was hanging out with the family members more.  When the other animals were in the house, she would come in and check things out and even began lying down next to the dogs!  We were treating a couple of the other animals at the same time — the owner also.  So it could have also been a generalized household transition into a much better interaction and family balance."

Essences Bring New Karma To Chameleon

In perhaps a first for the Flower Essence Society, Jennifer related the recent case about "Socrates," the antisocial, 4-year-old chameleon who was having trouble adjusting to a new owner and new surroundings.

ChameleonThe chameleon had come from a conscientious breeder, but it was unknown the extent of handling or socialization to which Socrates had been exposed.  The lizard was very shy and resistant to handling.  He hid underneath anything he could in his terrarium.  Despite his new owner being very good with chameleons, Socrates wouldn't let her get close.  He would hiss and snap at her when she tried to stroke him or get close enough to offer him something to eat.  Jennifer gave the owner a blend in a misting bottle.

"I started with seven essences, which I know is a lot,"  Jennifer admitted, "but within the first misting, Socrates crawled up to the highest branch in his terrarium.  He seemed to be asking for more."

For the first time the owner was able to pick him up without the hissing and snapping, and Socrates let her stroke him.  There was no longer any resistance to contact.

"When he was misted the owner reported she could tell he really felt good,"  she continued.  "He would close and roll around his eyes.  The owner decided to try to give him a direct dose of the blend, which was not preserved with any additional alcohol to respect his extra sensitive lizard system.  She offered him the dropper and gave him two drops.  Socrates clamored for the dropper and grabbed onto it, he was so interested in having more!  He had an extraordinarily quick and positive response."

According to Jennifer, the blend contained Mallow ("my biggie"), Water Violet (for the reserve), Walnut (transition), Aspen and Mimulus (balance for fear issues), Beech (restoring flexibility and tolerance to sensory stimulation and other people and animals), and Mariposa Lily (bonding, sense of safety).

"I feel like I can add Mariposa Lily to almost any blend, even if it pushes the number of essences over five.  It supplies a nice safety net, like cradling arms.  And I give a lot of credit to Mallow."

Jennifer Arnold has actively developed her training techniques and understanding of animal behavior during her 14 years as a professional trainer.  She stays current through attendance of seminars and workshops, literary research, and contact with colleagues.

As owner of Laughing Dog Enterprises, she has been a supplier of natural animal health and training products since 1987. While working at the MSPCA and Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston, she participated in a canine rehabilitation project and was chosen by the national president of the Animal Behavior Association to help pilot a new positive dog obedience training program.  At the New England Aquarium, Jennifer served as a marine mammal trainers' assistant and education associate.

Her professional experience is complimented by a degree in child development and by a true joy of working with people and their animals.

Email Jennifer at or check out her website 

Send snail mail to her at PO Box 2702, Woodinville, WA, 98072. Feel free to call her any time at Laughing Dog Enterprises 425-415-0883.

Read Jen's article: Mallow: Softening Animals' Hearts.


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