Jonna: Testing new skills in an old environment

As working student Jonna returned to Sweden, we continued our lessons, this time Online! Here is what Jonna writes about testing her new skills in Sweden.


It was interesting to come home and meet my mum’s horses again after all I’ve learned about Natural horsemanship and liberty training in St Vincent. I’ve known these horses for more than 10 years but when I came home in December after eight months away I saw them for the first time in a way I’ve never seen them before.

Three black pets get stimulation and exercise in one go
Three black pets get stimulation and exercise in one go

They are old but have had a great life so they are both very vital and active. We have always kept them in big pastures and have many pastures to move them around between. They go inside over night during the winter but in a stable with no isolation so the air is fresh. That way they also grow the fur they need to keep themselves warm so we don’t use blankets unless we have worked with them so they are sweaty. Our oldest mare Prima is the one we ride and she is about to turn 35 (!). She is smooth and young in her body but her sight is no longer the best and her hooves are starting to break and not repair like before. This is not something that bothers her yet when riding. She is not a beginner horse to ride since she is extremely fast and always want to go, go, go!
Our gelding, Ursut, is a 25 year old horse that we no longer ride. He has always been stumbling and in the end when we rode him he fell down completely when stumbling while riding. It is a mysterious why he stumbles, the veterinarians says that he doesn’t have any pain anywhere and that he is just heavy in front and distracted in his mind when he walks. His task nowadays is to keep Prima company.
The horses are very used to their routines; they know exactly what time they get their hay and exactly when they go in at night and out in the morning, you don’t get a happy face if you’re late with these tasks.
photo 2So, coming home from Stina’s horses in the Caribbean, which are very open minded and polite, I met something else at home; winter horses that are dependent on routines and not very respectful around food. I needed to think about how to approach them so I wrote to Stina and got some tips.
I started to just hang around the horses, I sat (not so long because of the cold) in their pasture and in the stable. I could see them get very confused. They already know me and it was weird to them that I was there without doing anything, not feeding, not brushing, not riding. I also started to work them at liberty. Saying hello, respecting each other’s personal space and leading from behind. I got to know my horse’s personalities in a way I hadn’t before. Ursut has always been very bossy and expressive but I could read hos language better now so it becomes more fun now than it have been in the past.
My brother’s wife came by one day when I was working with Ursut and got really interested in learning so it is an excellent exercise for me to teach with my own horses. She is riding Prima sometimes but she doesn’t know Ursut so well . We have worked together with connection with both of the horses and she loves this way of being with them.

“I didn´t feel like the horses liked me so much before, it is really cool to work like this in a way both me and the horses enjoy!” Lisa

A little different climate than in St Vincent (Prima, Ursut)
A little different climate than in St Vincent
(Prima, Ursut)

I’ve experimented a bit with different ways to find a way for Ursut to get more stimulation. One day I took some carrots in my pockets, let him go to see if he was following me when I was riding Prima. He happily followed like a dog and came when I called him to get carrots. I have started to file his hooves (also something I learned at Stina´s) since they were pretty long. When he gets even better hooves I´m planning to take him with us on longer rides in the forest, loose.

Three black pets get stimulation and exercise in one go
Ursut doesn’t like when we leave him in the stable alone while we ride with Prima. He neighs and sometimes kicks the door with his knees. I’ve tried to spread out small pieces of carrots so that he can be busy finding them. Also, I think his behavior will get better just by regular stimulation in the weeks. We have cows on our small farm so I would like to introduce him to some cows and maybe put him there while we are gone. I´m working on this one.
With Prima, except the connection work, I´m trying to get her more responsive to break. She wants to run very fast all the time and is hard to stop. It takes a lot of effort from the rider to make her slow down. I believe It´s extremely important for her that the rider is comfortable using his/her seat more than anything else when riding her, this so we don’t cause pain in her mouth since she uses a bit. She is very sensitive to the seat so it’s not necessary to pull her in her mouth. The first ride I had on her since I came home I rode her with just reins and halter and it worked just as fine. I find it important to be an example for the others who ride her to show them that it is possible to ride her without a bridle, even though she is very fast and strong. I’m also training her to calm down and relax in between her runs by feeding her with carrots every time we make a halt. She has to stand still and chew before we go again.
photo 1The horses have a very big pasture with some trees, open spaces, a little mountain and a stream but since I came home I´ve notice that they only stay in one corner. They are using only about one third of the pasture. It´s the corner where they go in and out and where they get their feed. So one day I fed them the hay in the upper part of the pasture, they followed me there, started eating but then turned around, left the food and went back to the same old corner again. The next day I did the same but I closed a gate so they couldn´t get back to the lower part where the corner is. I kept them there for the day. The next day I had the gate open and let them choose where to be. The whole day, except feeding time, they were walking around in the upper part! Today, they are walking around during the day in the whole pasture.
They are also learning to be polite and ask for the food before they get it, it is getting better but it is going to take some time before I get as polite horses as Stina’s.

It was exciting but very hard to come home to my mum´s horses, it became like a test from what I´ve really learned from being away. It was frustrating at first, I didn´t know how to improve my horses lives in a way that works for my mum since I no longer live at home. But I told myself to let it take time and just observe and be open-minded (another thing Stina taught me) through this, my inspiration got huge and with that came many ideas and creative solutions.

The creativity is still flowing and I get more and more ideas the more time I spend with the horses.

I and my mum´s horses thank you Stina, I´ve learned something for life that improves peoples and their horse’s life!


 

Thank you so much Jonna for sharing your experiences using your new knowledge.

What many students learn from my lessons and at my clinics is creativity and to use various approaches to solve a task. I think also a bit of humor helps so that when the horse does the “wrong” thing, you can laugh a bit and think of the horse as being creative and also think that your instruction or suggestion was not clear so the horse could understand what you wanted her to to.

Here at the SVG Horse School we are soon ready to welcome a new working student and in one of the next blogs you will be able to meet her.

Right now I am the “horse girl” and I take care of all horse task myself. The best about this situation is that I get to invent some new systems and improve our set up. Most of my “horse time” goes to just take care of the horses so not much training is happening. It’s very nice and me and my horses enjoy it alot.

Soon I will publish the dates for the next Sahaja Clinics so I hope to see you in 2016 here in St. Vincent.

 

Much sunshine

 

Stina

 

I also want to share a beautiful video of one of my favourite riders Alizee Froment

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16 comments

  1. Jonna, what a great blog. I love the way you think of the cows as company, let us know if that works. It was also so good that you brought both horses along on the ride. It is really so simple – Ursut would of course follow instead of leaving him alone.
    I look forward to see the pictures of his hooves, there might be a connection to how he is stumbling.
    Maybe you can share a video with us on your ride out with the three black pets!
    It looks cold over there, remembering my horse time in Norway…very very cold, but heartwarming moments with horses are always there.

    • Thank you! I managed adventually to get my mum involved! So she is going to start putting the horses with the cows sometimes. I have also trimmed Ursut’s hooves twice and they are looking so much better. My mum would like to learn how to trim as well so I’m gonna show her next time I’m home. But right now I live 6 hours south from the horses, in Malmö, just started working and creating my new routines. So I will be checking in at the horses when I visit home.
      Big hug !

  2. Thank you Jonna, after reading your blog my desire of learning from Stina is even stronger than before. I would love to do an Internship too, but as i have four horses that i keep on my own, i can´t stay at the caribbean for such a Long time. Anyway, i am planning to visit Stina and her herd for 2 or 3 weeks, and learn from them 🙂 i am really looking forward. all the Videos i have seen are just magical!
    Kind regards from Austria, Petra

    • Hello Petra, thank you for your comment to Jonna! I hope to see you here soon, let me know what month you are looking at coming so we can plan well in advance. Kind regards Stina

    • Thank you Petra, It is amazing! I’m so glad you are going to visit. Even though it’s only for a short while – you will learn a lot and get very inspired!

  3. It’s great to hear from Jonna after SVG, I’m sure your brother’s wife will enjoy her lessons as muc has I did!

    Now I am very curious about Prima and Ursut’s story, I hope you give us an update in some time. Will Ursut make friends with the cows? Will Prima learn to take it slow? It’s like a drama novel! 🙂

    Good luck!
    Anna

    • Thank you Anna!! Many things has improved since I introduced this way for my mum. Now I live away from home, but she will keep on doing some things to improve the routines so I’m happy! I hope you are great, I’m reading your book now! … Better late than never…. 🙂
      Love
      Jonna

  4. Thank you Jonna for sharing your horse adventures back home and I can totally relate when you said that after coming home, its like you saw horses for the first time because it is what happened to me as well once i started to really look at how they interact with each other. Its amazing what you discover about them once you look at the world with their own eyes 🙂 I cant wait for next update on how things are moving along and i wish you all the best with this journey with horses!!!

    Kristine

    • Thank you Kristine! Yeah , it’s just amazing . You realize that you have learned so much , and to the better!

      Hope everthing is good. Thanks again for the beautiful poem!
      Love

  5. This is great Jonna! Being reunited with animals so familiar but seeing them through different eyes and with new opportunity is so exciting – for both them and you I imagine! How lucky your 3 black pets are to have such an open minded companion! I’m sure that Ursut and Prima, in their old age, would be loving this new adventure that comes with your return!
    Best wishes for all of your future adventures, it will be great to hear how you get on down the track. You will most certainly have to return to St Vincent to defrost!

    Elsie 🙂

    • Hi Elsie,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I also hope Jonna will return to St. Vincent one day and we might see you too…?
      Much Sunshine Stina

    • Thank you Elsie!! Yeah it has been VERY exciting actually, and I’ve learned so much , once again!

      I wish you the same, I hope you will get the chance sometime and that the horses will get the honour to meet you some day!

      Take care
      xxx

  6. Such interesting reading. It’s so cool how we can actually change our own world and life with new knowledge and perspective. It kind of makes everything possible. Thanks for Charing / Sara

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