St. Vincent (SVG) Horse School at Richmond Vale Academy is a small horse school where people come to study liberty training, the language of the horse and natural horse management. Students come for demonstrations, single lessons, horse hikes and private clinics. I always wanted to start another kind of horse school and SVG Horse Schools is just that. Another Kind of Horse School.
How many riding schools, horse training method and ways of competition has developed does not resonate with what I like to see and what I want to do with horses. I see too much force, little respect, too many wrong breed horses and horses dying way too young. I see many riders that are not happy. Many horses that are shut down and many of these beautiful beings are degraded to an object.
I also think most riding schools have a missing link to teach children and youths about the nature of horses, to be respectful and that it’s not just about riding. Horses can give us so much more. Few riding schools that I knew had well trained horses and respectful teachers.
I meet my first horse when I was 10 years old in Norway. I fell in love, all I wanted was to be near the big brown “Doelagamp”. I did not need anything from the horse just the company. Later I started to train trotters for race and ride Icelandic horses and other horses, traditionally.
After a few years of working in Africa, I returned to my horse passion at the age of 25 but nothing made sense any more. I was living in Denmark at the time and had gotten this beautiful Andalucian mare, Evita, and off I went to different riding schools to take lessons. The dressage lessons made no sense because I had to use strength to get Evita’s “head down”, so I left this lesson. Instead I took my horse to a new riding school with a western teacher. Evita could stop and go, walk left, walk right, trot left, trot right, canter left but not canter right. My western teacher’s approach to this “problem” was to solve it by kicking my horse harder. I stepped down from the saddle and left the lesson. Evita was willing and she was trying. I knew she just could not canter right. Why? I still don’t know, but the teacher’s answer to the “problem”, I could not accept.
I searched for more varieties of horse schools took lessons in clicker training and also in traditional horsemanship. Something was still missing. The lessons were better and more friendly but Evita became to food oriented or too obedient. Then I found a new kind of horse teacher, Christina Holmbaeck. She had studied with Bent Branderup. Together with Evita I learned basic exercises from the ground in the Academic Art of Riding. I was very satisfied with these lessons and so was Evita.
At Christina’s lessons the horse was always in the center, the lessons were positive and any small improvement was a victory.
In 2007, I moved to St. Vincent a small poor island in the Caribbean to manage the Richmond Vale Academy, a small non profit where we teach people from around the world to run projects for poor people and to protect the environment. Before leaving Denmark I searched for a new home for Evita and today she is living happily at Camilla’s Ranch in Fyn. I still “check up” on her every now and then.
I always wanted horses in my life and once I arrived to St. Vincent I found a herd of wild, abandoned and abused horses. I took them all home. All my new horses wanted n-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with people. So again I was a beginner, on a journey exploring the language of a wild herd and learning everything a new. I thought I was pretty good with horses at the time, only to realize I knew almost nothing. This discovery was very exciting and brought me a lot of joy and new learning. One of the first lessons I learned from my wild herd was to slow down and give the horses time to take contact with me.
To create a bond with my herd from their perspective, I needed to wait for them to come to me first. I learned this from trying to initiate contact, any attempt from my side made the horses move away from me. The only thing we could do together was to spend time. I did not want to round them up or put them in a corner to force a halter on.
Just spending time without any need for connection was quite exciting. I spent hours just observing the family herd, their interactions, their language, the role of the lead mare, the second mare, the alpha mare, the young ones and the dominant horse.
Many of my students today take lessons in the language of horses when they come to SVG Horse School. They learn to understand what’s going on in the herd and in the horse’s mind because I can interpret.
Several horse trainers are teaching a new way of being with horses. I work together with a beautiful bouquet of Liberty Trainers in USA and Colombia and any of these trainers can teach the language of the horse and how to create a connection to the very heart of the horse.
Meet the Independent Liberty Trainers here:
Feel free to post any questions to me in the comment field.
Enjoy the video & your weekend.
Sunshine from St. Vincent, Stina
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