The Story of the Wild Horses by Stina
I moved to the small island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean in the beginning of 2007 to manage Richmond Vale Academy, fighting poverty and global warming. I have had horses as my hobby for many years, and in recent years I had learned the new “old” lessons why horses should go barefoot, why horses need to be free with friends, what they naturally eat, and how to ride and train them so they live very long and stay happy and healthy.
When I arrived, I encountered an abandoned herd of wild horses. The horses had been brought over to the island some 8-10 years ago to take tourists on trail rides. The owners had, for unknown reasons, left the island and the horses. The original herd had 16 members, but 9 had since died, so we brought the 7 surviving horses to our Nature and Hiking Center.
Rehabilitation and Natural Horse Management
Shortly after the horses arrived at our center, we put them into a big pasture with a long road to walk along to get to the water, to help keep their hooves in self-trim. The horses are always outside and together in the herd. Step by step the horses got much healthier and happier – they 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 horses around.
I thought I had quite a bit of experience with horses, having worked with some “difficult” horses, some “shut down” horses, and horses regaining their health and strength with natural methods – especially barefoot trimming. But these wild horses showed me new behaviors nearly every day. They kept being “distant”, frightened, and a bit aggressive and it seemed impossible to connect with them.
Making the Connection
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 would like to present for them. I studied with Carolyn, but most of all I studied my horses. Days and months were spent just observing the herd and being with them learning their language and how they interacted. I learned to wait for the horses 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 fruits for them. We built mutual trust and I copied the companionship interactions the horses were doing with each other and became one with the herd. Sometimes I would 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. The bond and the trust grew and I learned the language of horses. This was the missing link for me and a very beautiful experience.
Today, my teachings are focused on the language of the horse, developing your skills and understanding of the horse’s mind. With this understanding you can adjust so that you can connect with horses. Any horses. I teach you to have better relationships in life from what you learn from horses and I bring horses and humans together in harmony through a connection built on friendship, trust and respect. You learn when to allow your horse to shape your leadership to suit his nature and when to not give in. 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 him on a daily basis. I use body language: talking, sounds of tonality, bonding movements, companion exercises, visualization, and working with a horse in the moment she is willing to follow.
I teach you how to develop willingness in horses. The tack used in my teachings is a soft branch or a whip/ reed that cannot hurt the horse and a large area so the horse can escape a student’s influence if he chooses. This is very valuable because it points out to people when their leadership is not appropriate. It is important to stop training when the horse says no. The good thing about horses is they are companionship animals and they will return more willing if they have not been forced. If the horse is not willing at any point, we change the subject and work on something he would enjoy doing. Little by little the horse will do the thing that he refused to do earlier.
When horses form a friendship with us and begin to interface with us, they will test us. They become so secure that we need to create a working bond with them over personal space issues because they will get “pushy” as most animals and people do. One can almost say that learning this way of being with horses is one of a personal, spiritual growth in that it is achieved through learning leadership a horse is drawn to. You learn how to shape the character of the horse to bond and fit in harmony with you in the same way he bonds with other horses. It is a two-way street, you learn how to shape your leadership, to be inviting rather than dominant or persistent, and the horse learns respect and enjoys following your leadership.
The herd in 2007
Beyond Trail Slaves