Dear readers and horse friends!
I am happy to share a new article with you in the Elite Equestrian Magazine written by Manuela from Graceful horses.
Here at the Academy we are buys making the new rainforest riding program come true and we’re also preparing for Sahaja 2018….and for all Kadoo’s fans… he’s doing very well and is right now living in the old banana field with Magic and Elena.
Enjoy this very nice article. Big Thanks to Manuela!!
Sun, Wind and Rain from St. Vincent
Stina and the herd of 7
SHE DANCES WITH HORSES
Stina Herberg’s inspiring journey with a herd of rescues on St Vincent Island by equine photographer Manuela Stefan of ‘Graceful Horses’
I believe horses are on this Planet to help us find our own way back to Source (or however one prefers to call the place where nothing but Love exists). With remarkable patience for the humankind, these incredible animals invite us constantly to join them in a state of oneness and pure connection. In their majestic presence, our hearts synchronize rhythms with theirs and slow down, so we can fully surrender to the moment. All that horses ask of us is to stay open to who they are; to partner with them while respecting their deep need for freedom; to understand that, when treated as equals and seen for their immense sensitivity, they are so very willing to come our way and never leave our side.
Then the dance can begin.
Meeting Stina Herberg: a dream come true
A few years back I was guided to learn about Stina’s amazing story with a herd of abandoned-turned-feral horses and, as it often happens in my life, I just knew I had to meet her. And I finally did: this past January I traveled to the lush and scenic St Vincent island. Stina’s experience with this herd, unfolding over a period of more than 10 years, is not easy to describe in a few paragraphs…like any personal journey, it is a complex story of patience, constant search and learning, resilience, openness of the heart and of course, the transformative power of love.
Originally from Norway, Stina was brought to St Vincent in 2007 by a job opportunity: to lead the Richmond Vale Academy and create an international training centre with two main areas of focus: fighting global warming and poverty. Stina’s journey with horses began at the age of ten when she fell in love with her first equine friend. Over the years she worked with Icelandics, trained trotters for race, tookdressage and Western lessons and rode around the would in countries like India, Morocco and Mozambique.
Soon after her arrival on St Vincent, Stina encountered a herd of feral horses. Brought over to the island 8-10 yrs prior and originally meant for trail rides, the horses were abandoned by their owners and left to survive the hard way. The original herd had sixteen members, but nine already died. The last seven survivors were brought to Richmond Vale. And the journey began. “When I came to St. Vincent I thought I knew quite a bit about horses but…when I rescued the wild herd, I realized I had to start over” (Stina H)
Rehabilitation and Natural Horse Management
Once at Richmond Vale, the horses were allowed to live together in a big pasture with a long road leading to their water source, so their hooves would trim naturally. “The horses were dewormed, we got the ticks off, and slowly they gained weight. We started to use their manure in the organic vegetable garden and many local people found the horses very interesting as there are not many of them around” (Stina) But the horses were still distant, seemed frightened and even showed signs of aggression at times. Faced with behaviour she had not previously encountered, Stina had to reconstruct her approach and find new ways to connect.
Building the connection
For weeks to come, Stina had spent time observing the herd dynamics without interference and began to get insight into the horses’ language. “I did not want to use force. I wanted to find a way to communicate with them and agree about what to do, and also really make the horses enjoy my company and the reasonable challenges I presented to them. I studied with Carolyn Resnick, but most of all I studied my horses. I learned to wait for them to interact with me. While hanging out with them, I made them move a bit forward, showed them the way to the fruit trees, and sometimes I picked fruit for them. We built mutual trust and I copied their companionship interactions. The bond grew as I was learning their language. I became one with the herd.” (Stina H) With the most difficult times already behind them (even though the learning never really ends), this admirable woman and her herd are now at a point of visible harmony, trust and joy in their interaction.
They are a delight to watch moving together in synch and offering a spectacle of deep union. “Sometimes I just sit in the moonlight with the horses, watching the stars while feeling their breath and listening to the deep sounds of the rain forest.” (Stina H) I really enjoyed my walks with Stina and her herd to the beach, witnessing their playfulness and contemplating the deep trust they have for each other. More so, these horses are now so very open and welcoming of all humans. I found so much peace and joy around them, I could not wait for the mornings to come so I could visit with them. They were always extremely welcoming of me. I was very touched by their gentleness and could see my own soul in their loving eyes. They came this far simply because a human was willing to be there for them in the most understanding and compassionate of ways.
Stina as Teacher
Stina’s profound knowledge built through the interaction with her rescues is now an inspiration to many. Students from around the world visit Richmond Vale where Stina teaches the language of horses and how to work with them at liberty. “I bring horses and humans together in harmony through a connection built on friendship, trust and respect.
I teach about how to have better relationships in life from what you learn from horses. I show you how to win a horse’s respect, how to keep a horse interested in learning and performing and how to create a perfect connection with them on a daily basis.” (Stina H)
Every December Stina also offers the unique ‘Sahaja Liberty Training Clinic and Retreat’. To my delight, she invited me to co-host this year’s Sahaja (December 1-5, 2018). “I am very excited to have Manuela join me to co-teach so we can add more feminine and spiritual elements. Manuela’s amazing photography will also give the participants some very unique moments and memories that are likely to be life changing.” (Stina H) I look forward to creating magic together!
For more information, visit Stina’s website at http://www.stinaherberg.com
Equine photographer Manuela Stefan travels the world to capture the beauty and majesty of the horse. Her work has been seen in Elite Equestrian, Horse Canada, Performance Horse Digest, The Rider, Equitrekking, Top50 Ranches, Equine VIP. Manuela exhibits her large format equine images in art shows and galleries across Canada, US and Europe. She is available worldwide for private and commercial equine photographic commissions.
Visit her website, read her travel blog and shop for equine art at: http://www.gracefulhorses.com
Follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram: @gracefulhorsesphotography