Gratitude is confidence in life itself

Michelle van Ardennen With this blog I want to thank Stina who gave me all these wonderful lessons and made a lot of beautiful photos and videos.

My time at Richmond Vale Academy has come to an end. When I just arrived I was very proud at myself because I’m not a traveler at all. When I’m at home I rather stay close to the people and animals I love. I saw Stina’s videos on YouTube about two years ago. She was dancing and communicating with her horses in a way I really liked, she inspired me.

When I looked at her website I saw the option about working as a student with horses. At the time it felt like a faraway dream. But last October she was searching for new students. First I still thought it was something I wasn’t able to do. Traveling on my own, no way! But when I saw it a couple of times appear on Facebook I couldn’t resist anymore. From then on it went fast and now my time in St. Vincent is already done. The last years I went through some struggles in life, which in the end made me stronger. Now I really proved to myself that I’m capable of more than I could ever think of.
The first weeks weren’t that easy and I needed time to settle down. I had to live in a community. Wow! People everywhere and always around, having meals and activities together, speaking English. That was a big difference compared to home. But people were so welcoming and kind that getting used to this lifestyle didn’t take me long.

When I first met the horses I realized, that being with horses you don’t know was again a challenge. But it was also my first lesson in communication. Because now you had to “see” the horse first as an independent living being before you could do anything else.

I have personally developed as well because within this new situation I realized I was living/practicing some old patterns again. I started focusing on my environment. With that I was thinking a lot about what other people would think instead of taking care of my own needs. Being aware of that, giving it some time, writing blogs and talking to some people helped me reconnect with myself. After that things went a lot easier and I started to really enjoy my time here. I saw all the beautiful things around me and appreciated the paradise I was living in.

With this blog I want to thank Stina who gave me all these wonderful lessons and made a lot of beautiful photos and videos. I also want to thank David for showing me around this beautiful place. Rosanna who allowed me to join the Sahaja clinic with her and became my new “horse” friend. Andrea for becoming my friend and giving me support when I needed it most. Lilith for all the horse talks and Sara for blogging with me. And of course the other students and teachers for welcoming me and spending time with me.
A very special thanks goes out to my best teachers: the horses Spirit, Jack, Elena and Magic.

Soft and gentle Spirit. What I like about Spirit is that she’s so easy to connect with and she has a very nice habit of sniffing all around your face in a very kind and gentle way. It feels like she’s giving you so much love, but I think she’s just trying to figure out what you’re up to. She taught me to live in the moment and stay connected.

Adorable Jack. He looks so dreamy, like he’s living in his own world. But when he wakes up he’s a completely different horse. He’s paying attention and being active. He taught me to be aware of my energy and stay focused all the time.
Sweet Elena. She is so cute, with her small body and big ears. She really likes to be groomed and will ask for it when you’re nearby. She was my best teacher to become more gratitude secure in a calm and steady way.

Pretty Magic. Magic is a very beautiful horse. She is a horse who’s always ready to go, it doesn’t matter where to. And she has a lot of ideas. With her I could practice to be more patient, to wait and tune in with the environment.

My time went with ups and downs, feeling homesick once in a while but most of all appreciating being here. With lots of life lessons, trial and error, frustration, practice, gratitude… Sometimes I wanted to give up but I realized that would bring me nowhere. I learned to focus more on the things I wanted to accomplish instead of feeling bad when things went different. But my mind is very stubborn so this is still challenging.

Now I’m going back home and I can take my lessons with me and use in real life. I will continue practicing with my own horses, figuring out who they really are and look for the lessons they can teach me. After that maybe I’ll be able to teach them something as well. So I finally can give them something back in life.
Michelle van Ardennen (Holland)
Working student

Food Waste in a Pandemic
Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of...