I am on the flight on the way back to St. Vincent from an extraordinary Liberty Training Clinic in Norway.
At Norunn’s beautiful ranch in Moelv, 12 of us gathered together Friday night. I told the story of Darling’s herd in details; from how they were rescued, how they healed, how we connected, how we started riding, how they live in their family herd and how I came to teach Darling’s lessons today.
With Norunn’s low calorie chocolate cake, Norwegian Twist and freshly brewed coffee the small seminar lasted almost three hours. I shared photos and videos while we discussed and asked each other questions about horses, horses, horses and horses. There is something truly unique about horse people when they come together; how we share similar stories and learn from and inspire each other. We had all come to learn more about a kinder and more communicative way of being with horses.
The following day we started the Liberty Training Clinic with an hour of theory. We went though Darling’s Lead Mare Lessons, which are inspired by my studies with several great horse teachers, mixed with my own experiences taming a wild herd of horses.
Our first practical session took place in one of the pastures with Norunn’s herd of horses. The horses were happy to “talk to us” on their terms. We had first put two horses in the arena, but they needed to feel more at home and settled in their surroundings before they were ready to communicate with us. This was a good realization. The other realization was to just change your plan if the first plan does not work. No problem!
It was nice to see how all the horses in the pasture found it fascinating to “talk” to humans that were so respectful and who greeted them on their terms.
We discussed how to create a horse that is willing, energetic, respectful, focused and attentive. I had prepared a paper with seven exercises that could help people communicate better with their horses.
It was very unique to have so many different horses on the clinic; from a year young warmblood princess, to a three year old warmblod prince, a twelve year old experienced dressage king, a charming fjord mare, a elegant friesian lady, a sensitive gentle mother mare, a mini stallion and a heartbreaker with an arabic touch. Each horse had a lot to teach us. We all improved our listening skills.
We trained various exercises to bring the connection and understanding between horses and humans forward. We discussed how to set boundaries, how to be respectful, to be more grateful, being present in the moment and how to read what the horse is actually saying. We improved our own body language, how to be more clear with our communication and pick up the signals the horses were sending us.
Norunn’s ranch has the most amazing views in all directions and at her farm the horses live the best lives. All horses can experience a life in a herd in big open fields with free access to food. The other animals at the ranch also grabbed our attention and hearts throughout the clinic and they were; cats, goats, birds or the beautiful sensitive dog “Gaia”.
Saturday night we spent eating a ton of potato chips and watching horse movies till the late night. Eagerly we discussed how to develop the dressage horse on the horses’ terms keeping the life spirit intact.
I would like to thank you all so much for coming, every time I teach I learn. I would especially like to thank Norunn for hosting the clinic, your enthusiasm and love for horses certainly set a high standard and spirit for the whole clinic.
Your place is amazing, Norunn, and your heart for horses and people will reach very far helping others move forward with both their relationships and riding skills.
Here is what Norunn writes about the clinic (first in Norwegian, then in English):
“Takk for et fantastisk spennende kurs! Jeg sitter igjen med så utrolig mye, på innmari mange plan selv om de handlingene vi faktisk gjorde gjennom kurset, egentlig var ganske få. Noe av det som slår meg, er at du har utviklet din egen stil, hvor du og hestene virker å leve sammen i harmoni og gjensidig respekt. Og, du åpner for at vi, som ønsker å lære av deg, skal få muligheten og opplevelsen av å selv finne en egen kommunikasjon, hvor vi respekterer og samarbeider med hver enkelt hest!
Her er det ingen fasit, og heller ingen quick-fix, men en opplevelsesbasert form for selvutvikling. Hvor noe av det viktigste er å finne sitt eget mål for prosessen. Et mål som selvsagt vil være oppe til vurdering og revurdering titt og ofte.
Vi hadde en utrolig flott helg, hvor Stina hadde bestilt perfekt vær og innmari hyggelige kursdeltagere. I tillegg ble vi kjent med en flokk hester med stor bredde i personlighet og uttrykk, noe som var kjempegøy. Stina jobbet en del med hver enkelt hest, og viste genuin interesse for akkurat den hesten, og hvordan akkurat den hesten hadde det akkurat der, og hva akkurat den hesten mente om de forskjellige øvelsene.
Vi jobbet egentlig mest med å hilse på hestene, og forstå hva hestene uttrykker. Vi lærte masse om tanker ift respekt for hesten, og hesten sitt område, og ikke minst respekt for oss selv, og vårt område ift hesten.
Hestene virket å sette enorm pris på å bli hørt, når de gav uttrykk for et eller annet, som store Jezzi viste. Hun ble så veldig nysgjerrig og positiv når hun skjønte at du forsto når hun ba deg gå bort ved å vende bort hodet. Det virket som om det gikk ned en jacpot når hun virkelig ble forstått på noen av sine uttrykk som hun nok har forsøkt å vise tidligere men ikke blitt hørt på. Vi ser frem til flere kurs, spennende samtaler og utvikling av den klassiske dressuren i samarbeid med hestene våre!”
“Thank you for a wonderful exciting course! I am left with so much, on sooo many levels even though the actions we actually did through the course, were few. One of the things that strikes me is that you have developed your own style where you and the horses seem to live together in harmony and mutual respect. And, you open for us, who want to learn from you, to have the opportunity and experience of even find a private communication, where we respect and cooperate with each single horse!
Here there is no easy answer, and no quick-fix, but an experience based form of self. Where some of the most important is to find their own goals for the process. A measure that obviously will be up to
assessment and reassessment often.
We had an incredibly great weekend, where Stina had ordered perfect weather and sooo nice course participants. In addition, we became familiar with a herd horses with great variety of personalities and expressions, which was a blast. Stina worked with the different horses and showed genuine interest in each horse, how exactly the horse had it at the present moment, and what exactly the horse thought about the different exercises.
We worked mostly to greet the horses, and understand what the horses are expressing.
We learned a lot about our thoughts in relation to respect for the horse, and the horses’ space and the respect for ourselves and our area in relation to the horse.
The horses seemed to put enormous price to be heard, when they expressed something that big “Jezzi” showed. She was very curious and positive when she realized that you understood when she told you to go away by turning her head. It seemed as if “Jezzi” won a jackpot when she could see that we finally understood her expressions and respected them. She earlier tried to tell humans but without any response.
We look forward to more courses, exciting conversations and development of the classical dressage in cooperation with our horses! ”
– Norunn Kogstad,
Looking so much forward till summer of 2017.
Much sunshine, wind and and rain
Video from a recent clinic in St. Vincent, maybe that is next step?