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Sole Abscess - A Metaphor for Life?

I was surprised by the number of views to my original Instagram Reel of soaking Holly’s sore foot. For some reason that resonated with people. I am pleased to report that Holly is now fully sound again. The farrier trimmed her hooves last week for the first time since the abscess broke and this picture shows her now-healthy foot.

When he started to trim, he noted that the whole frog (that triangular part in the middle of the rear of the hoof) was ready to shed. As he pulled the frog off, there was a perfectly formed new frog underneath. The same with the sole of the foot. He pared it all off and there was new, healthy sole underneath. The abscess would have stimulated the body to rebuild the new frog and sole as all the infection formed underneath the original sole. It is always a wonder to see what the body is capable of doing to heal a wound!

So – where’s the metaphor? We all have ‘stuff’ that sits inside our body and psyche as a result of overwhelming experiences in our lives. The body can wall it off, as a way to protect us at the time, as Holly’s foot did to the abscess. For Holly, that resulted in extreme lameness as the infection grew in that closed environment. In humans, our ‘stuff’ can fester like a wound, walled off from our conscious awareness. But these overwhelming experiences burst through at times as ‘triggers’ – over the top responses to seemingly unrelated stimuli. That’s when we wonder – ‘What got into you?’ In Holly’s case, the infection finally found its way out, when the abscess burst through the top of her hoof, at the heel bulb. Only after that, could she walk without pain. If we can open our wound, bring light and awareness to it, we can heal and our lives can become whole again. A sole abscess as a metaphor for a soul abscess.

We never know what is under the scab until we take it off. In Somatic Experiencing, we don’t want to rip off the scab. An analogy that SE uses is that of a shaken pop bottle. If you take the lid off all at once, the contents will spill over. However, if you turn the lid a little bit at a time and let the pressure out slowly, you don’t get a spill. As Peter Levine, the originator of SE, says, we don’t want to re-experience the trauma, we want to renegotiate it. This is done by ‘titration’, by touching into the original experience a little bit at a time.

Just like Holly’s foot regrew a new, healthy hoof where there had been a huge abscess, we can find wholeness and healing when we have the courage to face the traumas and overwhelming situations that we have endured in our lives. It is only then that we can feel fully alive. And – all healing happens in relationship. If it can’t happen with a human, maybe it can happen with a horse!

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