I came to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with big expectations.
Since my childhood I live together with horses and those beautiful animals have always inspired me to search for new ways to be and communicate with them.
As the commercial way of training horses doesn’t please me, I tried a lot of different methods and on my journey I also got in contact with Liberty Training and the Carolyn Resnick Method.
That was when I found a video from Stina, playing with her horses at liberty – I immediately fell in love with her inspiring video and the beautiful surroundings. Short time later I knew: My spouse Kai and I will go to St. Vincent – not only for vacation, but also to learn more about horses and Liberty Training.
On my first lesson with Stina I quickly recognized: on my long way with horses I lost the focus on small things, on basic things. I lost a lot of awareness – regarding the horse signals and also regarding my own body language.
Stina's lesson didn’t start with beautiful dances, as I saw them on the video, but with basic things, like greeting the horse or consider the horses' behaviour before putting a halter on.
And I started to realize that the awareness of these basic things leads to all the beautiful dances and the smooth way of communication with the horses that I admire so much.
You cannot dance with your horse without awareness of your own body and every little sign the horse gives to you.
I really enjoyed the lessons with Stina and her cute, very sensitive horses.
I loved Stina's fresh and creative way of dealing with “problems” – she never considered “wrong” behaviour from the horse as a problem, but as a creative way to respond. She let the horse think about it and tries again, maybe she has to change the approach, maybe not… Nothing is strict and stuck, but everything is smooth, easy and gentle.
To me it was a big benefit that Stina is a hoof nerd too, just like me, and that she learns to trim the hooves of her horses on her own, so I could see how she works with them while trimming. As I sometimes have problems with the patience of my horses while trimming, it was really valuable to see how Stina deals with her horses and it was a lot of fun to learn together and from each other.
I also loved listening to Stinas stories about how she found her herd of wild and abused horses and how she started to interact with them.
It was clear to see that she has gained a lot from her journey with her herd, not just regarding horses but how she deals with life as a whole.
When I asked Stina how she knows all those things about sustainable gardening and living, her answer was as easy as her way of training horses: “Well, you just have to start and try and see what works and what does not work…”
When I came back home, I knew that Sharif, my arab who can be a real challenge while hoof trimming, needs to be trimmed, and inspired by all I have learned in the Caribbean I was really looking forward to it.
I was lucky to meet also Samantha Harvey at the Richmond Vale Center, who is a professional horse trainer and was there to help Stina with her riding program. So there was another horse woman I had to talk to (poor Kai J) and I also took a lesson with her. Her way of training is a little more “strict” than Stina's but also very soft and gentle with a lot of awareness for the horse. She gave my very useful advices on how to change your patterns to keep your horse focused and your own mind fresh.
So, back home I remembered Stina's words and just started and tried on my own. I thought about staying calm and happy, no matter how the horses respond is and mixed everything I have learned from Stina and Sam with my own intuition and my awareness for the horse and the present moment And voila: The hoof trim with Sharif went perfect. No big discussion, no drama, no impatience – neither from the horse nor from myself – but a lot of fun and good teamwork. Even my friends who came to visit me at the barn were very surprised about our perfect teamwork.
After I finished trimming, Sharif wanted to stay together with me some more. Obviously he really enjoyed our common time.
The big difference was me: My inner feelings, my patience, my awareness. As I started to focus on all the small, basic things during the progress I became calm and centred and I started to realize that my horses love this state of mind.
We also had a lot of fun by playing the treasure game and some other exercises Stina had shown me.
After those two weeks in the Caribbean a lot has changed regarding my daily time I spend with the herd. Now I don’t just do my work in the stable. I am aware of every little interaction with my horses, no matter if it is feeding them or training with them, and that changes a lot.
After my success with Sharif I tried my new method to get willing trim-partners with Pancho, who has a complete different personality and I had to change some of my approach but again, it worked surprisingly well!
So regarding my expectations I had from visiting Stina and her herd in St. Vincent I have to say that all are exceeded. And I am sure, as long as I stay in that magical state of mind and awareness while I am with my horses, I can soon start to dance with them and fulfil all my inner wishes on how to be with horses.
By the way, not only horses and lessons are worth to travel to St. Vincent.
The Richmond Vale Academy is a wonderful place, surrounded by beautiful nature with a lot of open minded and friendly people. My spouse Kai really enjoyed his stay, although he is not a big horse fan. He fell in love with this beautiful island just like me and is looking forward to continue with scuba diving, when we will visit St. Vincent again.
Warm regards from cold Austria, Petra.