Choosing a friend for Philip hadn’t worked out as expected. He wasn’t keen on Buttercup although she didn’t seem to mind. She happily followed him around, oblivious to his disdain. He’d chew cud so she’d chew – even though she wasn’t eating grass, she mimicked him like an adoring little sister keen to be just like her big brother.
The logical next step was to let Philip choose his friend. When the 15 cows and calves arrived, he was delighted. He ran up and down the fence line alongside them, kicking his heels, seemingly overjoyed to see so many others like him. I breathed a sigh of relief, he looked happy, he would have friends to play with, friends that would play the way he wanted to play.
The first day I let him in with the big cows. I was terrified. I stayed next to him the entire time hovering like a helicopter parent on their child’s first day of school. After a while I realised that my presence probably wasn’t helping him fit in with the herd and I retreated and watched from what I considered a safe distance – that is, still close enough to save him if he needed!
When the big cows moved, Philip didn’t follow. It soon become apparent he had lost interest very quickly and didn’t want to be near them. He was happy in the paddock, but he was always a good distance from the herd. In some ways, this was worse, seeing him on his own when all the others stayed together. I imagine it’s like watching your child at the playground being excluded by the other children.
Being left out is an awful feeling. No matter how old we are. Biologically, people are wired to seek out other people. Historically, we survived and thrived in groups. Whilst being lonely has been linked to worse emotional and physical health outcomes. We all need connection, what differs is the type and amount we need. If you are feeling disconnected, counselling may help. If your child has difficulty building and maintaining friendships, Equine Facilitated Learning may help.
Contact us to discuss and book a session.
And stay tuned for our next attempt to help Philip explore what he needs to feel happy.