I arrived to St Vincent on the 30th of April with my riding helmet and the vision that I would learn alot about horses on this volunteer opportunity with the former wild horses at Richmond Vale Academy. Almost two months have past and I already know that this journey is about something completely else than I imagined.
Going from the airport to Richmond, about a two hours drive, I already realized that I’d landed in paradise, even though it was pitch black and I was deadly tired from my 38 hours travel from Sweden. The roads going up up up, and then down, down, down, sharp rights and sharp lefts, the humid air blowing in my face from the open window in the car, the reggae music from inside the car and from the houses passing by and the cricket’s sounds in between held me awake the whole way, I just didn’t want to shut my eyes and miss something.
Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) is located at a unique place with amazing views wherever you turn your head. It was only after three days I was starting to realize that this special environment, including the nature, the local people, school atmosphere, the students and teachers here, combined with my work with horses, is going to do something more with me than just improve my skills and knowledge about horses. Meeting all of these people from all over the world and learning about their cultures, and especially the reasons why they are here made me question myself, what I’m doing here. I’m here to work with and learn more about the horses, they are here to change the world – it put it into a perspective I wasn’t prepared for.
I tend to be very harsh to myself when I face something like this, but now I’ve come closer to my senses and realized that this journey is a great chance for me to find out things in life. Yes, the Caribbean and Richmond can do that to you. It might be why, after some weeks here, I had to have three days of sleep, since my eyes just wouldn’t stay open. Too many existential questions at the same time makes you very sleepy.
I’ve been around horses since I was a baby but I came to Richmond with an open mind, ready to change my way, and the traditional way, of being with horses. This through liberty training and natural horsemanship that the headmaster at RVA, Stina, teaches. It’s a way of being and handling horses in a natural and kind way, which differs from the traditional ways. This way is a lot about being totally aware in the moment. Aware of what you are saying and showing with your body and what the horses are saying with their bodies, so that you can meet and communicate with each other, very similar to the communication between people in social contexts. You practice your body language, flexibility, leadership skills and enjoying every minute with the horses. The horses are such good teachers and can, for example, sense straight away if you’re just in the slightest distracted.
The more I learn, the more I realize that my work with the horses here at RVA matters more than I had imagined. I mean, all the important things in life come from awareness. The first step to make a change, any change, is to first be aware. That’s what I and the students here at the RVA have in common. We’re aware, we have an open mind and are ready to make a change.
I’m so happy to be here and to have the chance to learn from this culture, students, teachers, nature and horses. It’s changing me as a person, and I love the direction it’s heading. This island has put a lifelong spell on me that I know I will be grateful for, for the rest of my life.
Read about our horse apprentice programs here