The Horse that did not want to canter left

Twenty years ago in Denmark I had gotten an Andalucian mare named Evita and she did not want to canter left.

Last Letter to Dr. Lennart. RIP.

Ever since I meet my first horse at around ten years old, in Rjukan, Norway, I just loved horses and have had them in my life ever since. At a point I had moved to Denmark. Living in Denmark and working with Another Kind of School, I spent many afternoons with Evita.

Evita came to my life from an ad in the recycling paper Blaa Avis. “Mare need new home”. I meet Evita in Djursland and decided to bring her home.

Evita was one of these so called “grumpy mares” completely uninterested in what I offered for her to do. She would obey but with protests in her eyes. I took different lessons to become a better rider and a better keeper for my horse. In spite of all my efforts to do better it was not enough for Evita, there were so many “No’s”, even after I learnt to ask in a more gentle and clear way.

I had found a new riding teacher and signed up for more lessons. We could finally walk left, walk right, trot left, trot right, canter right, but no canter left. At a point in the lesson my riding teacher said I should kick Evita when she did not want to canter left. A bell rang..first softly then stronger…. What am I doing ding ding ding ding? Evita said yes to walk left and right, she also said yes to trot left and right and yes to canter right.

Why would she say “No” to canter left? I don’t know.

Should my response to her “No” be to kick her? No, I was too old for this, or maybe I had become more sensitive. Two years in war torn Mozambique had changed my heart. Too old or too sentisive – whatever – I wanted to enjoy my time with Evita and that did not include kicking her.

So now what to do? My teacher in the riding lesson insisted that I should kick my horse, and harder if what I wanted did not work.

I stopped the ride, took my feet out of the stirrups and slid down till my feet were planted on the ground. I thanked the teacher, greeted the other students and left the riding arena with Evita to never return. We had both noticed the lush grass on the outside of the riding hall on the way into the lesson. I was thinking and thinking what the problem was as we were enjoying some of the afternoon sunlight and fresh grass outside the riding hall in Horsens.

I was once again headed for a new learning journey and started to look for more ways of feeding, keeping, training and being with horses. I made many steps forward with horsemanship lessons, a professional to look at the tack used and we moved to a quiet stable where Evita could be outside 18 hours a day with a new horse friend. Things changed bit by bit, Evita and I enjoyed quiet trail rides together and I did not ask for a left canter.

Evita got better and better in the sense of waking up, got a more shiny coat, played more in the field, was more alert, “speaking” more. But there was something missing in our puzzle for better energy and health.

There must be an answer. What was the answer? Who could know the answer? Then one day I heard of a movie called “Heste sladrer ikke” (Horses don’t tell on you) and managed to find a copy, in this video I learnt about Dr. Lennart Oestblom – The fearless Horse Vet.

It took some time to find his number and then I called

– Hello Lennart, this is Stina I have a horse I need help with.

– Hello Stina, nice to talk to you, you know I don’t do private practice anymore.

– Oh really, why don’t you make an exception?

– No, I stopped my heste klinik (horse clinic) some years and go and now I do reserach.

– But I think you know the answer to what Evita’s problem is..

– I am very sorry but I don’t do private practice anymore and wish you good luck.

Somehow I knew Lenneart had the answer so I was not going to give up. The next day I called again and the conversation went almost the same. Lennart explained once again that he had stopped driving out to private people and also having clients at his horse hospital. I realized I needed a new strategy to get Lennart to see Evita.

A few days later I bought some nice shrimp sandwiches with extra mayo in Bilka shopping center and drove up to Gamle Ry village where Lennart was living. I found the way up the hill, turned left and continued up the gravel road untill a small wooden cabin appeared on the right. I knocked on the door and Lennart opened. Maybe he was surprised, I think so. We enjoyed the sandwiches and Lennart considered my request one more time.

A few days later Lennart had decided to make an exception and I was very excited to welcome him to the small stable and meet Evita. First he “scanned” with his hands over Evita’s sceleton, moved the hips, checked the shoulder and touched the back. He did not say much, but then he finally said – That seemed OK.

Then he asked me to take Evita outside and I should walk and trot with her so he can see her move from the side and from the front. I was waiting for THE answer and then he gave it!

He said – it’s the hooves.

OK.. ??

I had no idea about hooves at all. Lennart explained that Evitas toes were too long and that she had “duckfeet”. He wrote down how the trim should be: take off the toe and leave the frog and heels and then he left.

So the prescription from the doctor was a new trim.

I later learnt that Lennart made a movie about North America’s Wild Horses for Discovery Channel (more than 5 million + views on YouTube) and he had also done extensive research and ground breaking research on the horse’s anatomy and skeleton.

My next challenge had arrived as I was now going to find a farrier in Jylland that would listen to an amateur telling him how to trim Evita.

Calling farrier 1
– Hello this is Stina, I am not a farrier, I need a farrier to trim my horse and I will tell you how to do it….
Farrier 2 and 3 and 4…..nobody in the area of Jylland, let’s try Fyn.

I continued calling I could finally reach farrier Strib at Fyn, old guy, many experiences and he could see – what I was saying, which really was what Lennart was saying, made sense.

We got Evita and Farrier Strib in a good cycle of trimming and Evita came out a “new horse”. The Left Canter problem vanished and we enjoyed nice trail rides until I left Denmark in 2005. Maiken (my clicker trainer teacher) helped me find the perfect farm for Evita at Fyn where she got a new horse and human family (see photo) had she a happy life ever after doing her magic with the quiet trail rides.

Lennart and I had several great dinners and talks together, we also went to Equitana Horse Show together – beautiful memory. Thank you Lennart.

In 2007, I landed on the island of St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean for new work challenges and here I found a herd of feral horses, abandoned and abused. Lots of issues and lots of new lessons to be learnt. I called and talked to Lennart several times to find new answers to questions that had raised.

When I visited Denmark in between, we once again meet for great dinners at Ry Kro Resturant with interesting and enlightning discussions. We were in touch just a few months ago when I was asking advice whether to sterilize or castrate my new young stallion.

Thank you again Lennart for being in my life. All the lessons I learnt from you I will continue to share them with the many students that come here to our Academy. Now you rest, but your knowledge that needs to be brought to the public for the common good will not rest – it is so important for the welfare of beings and our common future.

Thank you Lennart, you will always be one of the persons that turn the world in the direction we need to move it – to restore human social metabolism with nature.

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