by Kim Hampton

Truffles is a miniature horse, a small but mighty silver palomino with a shock of creamy white mane and tail. It's a wonder he can even see with the thick forelock covering his eyes. Except when the wind blows--then it's a wild dance of silver strands standing on end in every direction.

A birthday gift to one of the nicest kids you'll ever meet, Truffles was also the companion and protector to a wonderful pony who passed away this past winter. Losing his buddy was tough for all of us.

As the weather this year seemed to abruptly move from spring into summer, he was still packing quite a bit more winter coat than the rest of the horses. Almost as if he were stuck in that winter time of year. Now, Truffles has never been too keen on grooming of any kind - especially when it comes to bath time. Bathing Truffles-or trying to -- is legendary. Given his diminutive size, you might have to see it to believe it. With each successive bath, it seems we added more protective gear, to the point that it took three to four people wearing riding helmets and sturdy paraphernalia, while he reared and resisted with every bit of his mini-ness. His behavior with the farrier wasn't much better, more of a wrestling match than a hoof trimming by the time it was all done: Truffles 1, Farrier 0.

My tack trunk sits just across from his stall door, and once Truffles hears me, he starts his whinnying, (which is, by the way, the cutest darn whinny you have ever heard). To be fair, it's probably the crinkling of a bag of peppermints, the rustling of a bag of carrots - and there he is waiting for me to ante up before I can make my escape down the aisle to find my own two horses. For each return trip to the tack trunk, there is a toll --an unwritten code which I, and many other horse people, never question. I am the Queen of the Peppermint Fairies, (and the clerks at Hannaford will unequivocally back that up).

In addition to my duties as Peppermint Fairy, add Equine Energetix program coordinator, RN, horse owner and riding enthusiast, animal lover, photographer, a strong believer in equine-interactive therapy, and a student of equine acupressure. I also practice Reiki, an energetic healing approach.

As I've grown as a Reiki practitioner, I find myself incorporating creative uses for it in my every day thinking. If Reiki helps people relax and de-stress, maybe it could also help adjust some folk who are in need of an attitude adjustment (or two)? I'm not just talking about people here. Attitudes and horses come in all shapes and sizes, and quite often it seems the smaller the beast the bigger the 'tude' - and so it goes with our beloved Truffles. Although he's just barely the size of a great dane--maybe even a bit smaller--miniature is not a feeling that comes to mind when I'm with him. He has all the courage and presence of a much bigger horse. There's something about the tapping of his little feet as we walk through the barn aisles that seems so quick and confident, almost authoritative.

Even so, it seems that there has been a lingering sadness that made me wonder whether he was still missing his buddy. It wasn't that he didn't get lots of attention, because the kids at the barn all adore and love on him at every opportunity. The squealing of little ones running in to see him goes on all day long, even younger siblings of the riders come along just to visit Truffles. There is almost a script starting with treats, hugs, giggles, squeals and followed by the stock dialogue: "Mommy, can we take him home please", followed by "No dear, we already have a dog", and then "but Mommy, pullleeaase I want him!!", followed by more hugs and treats. There's something about his face that always lights up even the gloomiest of days.

Once we were into summer and able to use the wash stall outside again, I asked Truffles' owner if I might be able to work with him to help make getting into the wash stall a little less dramatic. Nothing too ambitious, just a simple start. My goal was to use Reiki to relax Truffles enough that he would walk into the wash stall, and stand quietly.

Truffles' special person and I decided to work together, and not to expect too much of him. While he was still in his stall I stood within arm's reach, and offered Reiki energy. I slowed my own breathing, focusing on slow deep breaths, and just waited to gauge his response to the Reiki. Quietly, he started chewing and relaxing his neck and sighing, while we continued together without moving for close to five minutes. I continued to keep all of my movements and breathing slowed as I put on his tiny halter and lead line, and as we opened the stall gate he stayed right beside me, following step by step. Truffles surprised us both by walking into the wash stall without hesitation. With him standing there so quietly, we decided to take out the hose and turn it on so he could see the water. Hmm, still no reaction. All the while I continued sharing the Reiki energy and keeping my own attitude very quiet and low key.

We glanced at each other, a bit shocked, and said "shall we try a mini bath, and see what happens?" We filled the bucket with soapy water, and while Truffles was curious, he was also calm and quiet; we gently sprayed him with the warm water from the hose and a sponge with some soapy water to clean him. I kept him on the lead line, not pulling too tight, just talking to him and letting him move a little bit if he needed. I continued the Reiki throughout the time we were in the wash stall, asking spirit to help guide us in calming him. At one point the owner of the barn came out and was stunned to see Truffles standing quietly in the wash stall - "That's the quietest I've ever seen him stand!"

With more success than we ever anticipated, we limited our time in the wash stall, and rewarded Truffles with his favorite peppermints. I continued to work with him after the bath as he grazed. I believe each of us who does energy work has a special way of inviting in the "source" of the healing, and what you call this "source" is personal to each of us, for me it's Spirit. That morning, I asked Spirit for the best possible outcome with Truffles trusting those who love and care for him, especially at bath time and getting his feet trimmed.

Was this just a one-time occurrence? A dream? A delusion? My curiosity getting the best of me? We repeated the bath several days later to see whether Truffles had retained his new bath-time willingness. He did not disappoint. I started Reiki prior to taking him out of his stall, and as we walked I stayed closely at his shoulder and could feel his energy connect with mine, his pace shadowing mine as we slowly stepped out of the barn. All the while we were walking, I visualized Truffles standing quietly, enjoying the water, feeling safe. I could sense his calmness as his little hooves moved confidently toward the shower. I noticed that I was also more relaxed than the first time.

The second time around he allowed us to scrub his mane and tail, and he was relaxed with all four feet firmly planted on the ground. We looked at each other with a wonderful sense of relief and accomplishment, a big win for a very little horse.

While we were out grazing Truffles, the farrier came by and I asked if he had trimmed Truffles' feet lately. The farrier said he was altogether different this time around, that he "stood like a perfect little gentleman". After telling him about our Reiki experiment, he said, "I knew someone must have been working with him, big change!"

I'm grateful to Truffles and his family for allowing me to use Reiki, and who knows what challenge we will tackle next?!

So, with the crinkle of a wrapper and a wave of the wand, this is the Peppermint Fairy wishing you all a blessed day.