I have always been interested in animal communicators and the work they do. I have personally always wished I had the superpower to talk to animals, like Eliza Thornberry did in The Wild Thornberrys. I have also always been a teensy bit skeptical of animal communicators, but figured after a few friends of mine had positive experiences, I would give it a try. Either I would gain insight to Gallon's thoughts or I would have an interesting story to tell - Or both!
The animal communicator I used worked over the phone, claiming she was able to pluck out Gallon from a stream of individuals (Spirits? Souls? Not sure.), just by knowing his name, breed, age, and color. She explained that animals learn language at a 3rd to 6th grade level from the interactions they have with us, and that she was therefore able to communicate them via telepathy. She explained that telepathy would not work with feral or wild animals, because they have never learned the communication skills that domestic animals have. While this kind of makes sense to me, it is still a bit of a mystery to me how she is able to talk to animals non-verbally from thousands of miles away.
I had a list of questions for Gallon prepared before we began. For easy-to-read formatting, the AC's answers are written in bold, and after each response my thoughts are in italics.
1. Is Gallon in pain? Where? What could I do to make it better?
There must be pollen in your area. He is having sinus pressure and drainage issues as of late, and you should check his jaw. His jaw is askew and tight. It is not a piercing pain, but maybe an adjustment would help. His jaw is just tight, like he clenches down frequently.
We were not off to a good start. I know Gallon is currently experiencing some discomfort in his lower back and in his right front. I was hoping to gain insight about those, as well as any other problem areas. My vet was out to see him last week, and he had severe back pain (and radiographs taken, too!), and was very reactive to the hoof testers on his right front due to thin soles and having pedal osteitis. Obviously there is pollen in the air in my area, it is springtime in California.
2. Is Gallon happy with his life?
He is very happy with his life. He is so funny because he says that he has a good time with you and that you are fun. You don’t make him always go to work, but you both have a lot of fun together and you are goofy with him and you let him be himself. You let him express himself and have a personality.
Okay, fair response. Albeit generic and vague.
3. Does he know how loved he is? How does he feel about me?
He knows how loved he is because you tell him and show him that all the time by fawning over him. He isn't annoyed by it, but feels that it is sometimes excessive. He loves you back, like a child loves his mother.
I felt the end of this one was pretty accurate, and I call Gallon "son" all the time as a nickname for him.
4. What is Gallon's favorite treat?
Gallon isn't picky, but he does like peppermints and thinks they are refreshing. He also likes fresh fruits and vegetables over processes cookies/treats. He says that regular horse treats get chalky in his mouth so he doesn't really like that. With that being said, he would never turn down a treat of any form, but he prefers things that are fresh.
Gallon does like peppermints and apples/carrots/etc., as well as any treats I have ever offered him. I would say by his reaction that he does prefer carrots best, but he does love peppermints, too!
5. Gallon is very food aggressive, why?
He likes his food and he does not like to share. He feels like he has a fast metabolism and that he needs his food. He feels like he is consistently hungry and doesn’t feel like sharing would benefit him. He wants to regularly snack, and if you constantly fed him he would continually eat. He has an unquenchable need for food for some reason.
I thought this was an interesting answer. Gallon had a period of time in his life where he was not well-fed, so it makes sense that he thinks sharing wouldn't benefit him. But, I had also told the AC he was a thoroughbred, so maybe she was just giving me a generic OTTB answer, since most are hard keepers?
6. What is Gallon’s favorite color?
He likes burnt orange. He thinks it looks like sunrises and sunsets to him. He loves that time of day because everything looks like it’s glowing. He wants to sport that color so he can look like he’s glowing.
EEERRRRRRRR. (That's the sound of a really obnoxious buzzer) Horses cannot see orange. Romantic idea though. Horses see mostly in blues & greens & yellows. I became really skeptical after this answer.
7. Gallon has recently been very afraid in the cross-ties and wash racks, can he tell me why?
He wants to tell you that he is trying to be stronger and braver, but he is struggling with it. You should check the lighting in the areas where he is tied. Something recently has been clattering behind him and that has scared him. Since he can’t see behind him, he is panicky and wants to move forward. Repetition and showing him that nothing is going to hurt him should help. He doesn’t like feeling like he can’t escape from it.
Well, this would be a good answer since it is Horse Psychology 101 that a prey animal wants to move away from what they fear; however, there is nothing behind him when he is in the cross-ties or wash racks.
8. Has he known other kindness in his life?
He had a groom that was incredibly kind to him on the racetrack, and he never knew pain during his racing career. Nobody beat on him. He said he had a little black man in his 40s as a groom who was scruffy looking that he especially loved. He said he always loved on him and would bring him treats and adored him.
I actually blurted out after this one, "Like Secretariat's groom?", because that is exactly who she described. I also know that he wasn't treated with kindness his entire life on the track.
9. Did Gallon enjoy racing?
He liked to win. He didn’t feel like he was very successful. He was primed to be a winner, but couldn’t get over a training hop. He doesn’t miss it at all. He felt when he was losing races that he was losing his value to his owners. It was very mentally taxing and emotionally taxing for him. He felt like his future was undetermined while he was racing. He is very smart, and constantly planning for the future and wondering what is going to happen next. He does want to know what yours & his next plan is – He thinks you set goals and then back off of them. For example, when you get home from clinics or shows you back off of your goals and don't continue pushing him.
Uhh... This one was long and drawn out and there were a few moments of "Oh, maybe!", but the rest of it was just a mess. First of all, Gallon was a fantastic racehorse and ran very well. A "training hop?"? What? He made his owners quite a lot of money on the track. Second, those of you who know us, know that Gallon is lame and I have never taken him to a show or clinic. I have actually never trailered him off-site from his current boarding facility. Awkward.
10. What made him run so well? Did he want to win?
He loved winning and he knew that it was his only purpose at the time. He was driven in that way. He will not stop trying until he has mastered whatever is asked of him. You could give him any job, and even if his body can’t do it he will drag his body along and make it work.
This was the first answer where I felt like she finally pegged who Gallon was. This is very him.
11. Does he remember anything about his dam, Bellehop?
No. He was with her longer than most foals, but he didn’t have her in his adult life so not really. Gallon feels this is a weird question to ask.
The AC's response really threw me off. I said something along the lines of "Oh, okay" and she responded with, "Gallon feels you are really disappointed in him for this, was his dam famous or something?" No, she wasn't. I also wouldn't be disappointed if Gallon didn't actually remember her, I was just genuinely curious.
12. When did he injure his pelvis? Does he remember how?
It was in a trailering accident. He got thrashed about, and whoever was with him got loose and he says that somebody went over the bar and they both got hurt pretty badly. It is in the pelvic area, but it is more in the hip where he feels it, it isn’t just his pelvis. It isn't his SI either.
I am actually not really sure how I feel about this response. His injury is in his pelvis, and was most likely sustained by rushing through a narrow doorway or in a starting gate. He doesn't have any history of being in a traumatic trailering accident, but who knows, maybe?
13. What happened immediately after he left the official racing scene?
He didn’t do anything, but was shuffled about a lot before arriving to you. He said he didn’t do much, but was just existing. He had a lot of owners. He wants to know why you would pick a broken-spirited horse especially for that reason? He knows you are a good horsewoman. He says there is something about you that makes you soft-hearted and he feels like you would have loved him even if he showed up with 2 legs. He appreciates you for rescuing him. It is deeper than “I love my mom”, he appreciates your effort. He understands that it’s crummy when you are doing your best and he isn’t getting better, but he is so thankful for you.
Well, I really liked this answer. Unfortunately, it came after I had told her, "Gallon is actually lame, and I adopted him to give him a soft place to land", because I couldn't bear to hear her tell me something about showing or riding in clinics again. He also eventually ended up racing in bush races before coming to me, and was also in jump training for a bit, so he didn't just sit around until he got to me. I really wanted to know what happened to him right after he retired from official racing, but unfortunately she did not give me any insight.
14. Who is his current best horse friend?
He does like other horses but he thinks you are his horse best friend. If all the other horses were to go away, he would be fine as long as he has you. But if he had to pick one, he said he likes a little red chestnut with a short mane with a clunky-boxy head that he gets turned out with.
There is no small chestnut with a boxy head at our barn.
15. What is most stressful for him?
Not having a plan.
Okay, that's fair.
She also gave me insight into how Gallon feels about me moving away for school in Arizona when I asked her, and she said that Gallon made it clear that he would like to come with me.
So, there you have it. Do I believe in animal communication? Undecided, but I definitely do not believe that this woman was communicating with Gallon. I believe that she is skilled at reading people and telling them what they want to hear so that they believe it.
Maybe I will try another AC in the future, but for now, I think I will rest my case and just use this as a fun story to tell. What do you think? Do you believe in animal communicators?