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Stina Herberg

 

Stina Herberg lives on St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean. She has a herd of seven horses that used to live wild. When I was there, I learned a lot about communication and collaboration. I also had the opportunity to spend many hours every day watching and studying how the horses communicate with each other.


When I was an intern there, Stina was a student of Carolyn Resnic, and one of the things I learned while I was there was a series of rituals to improve contact and cooperation with the horse: "the whaterhole rituals".

 

Stina's day largely followed the horses' circadian rhythm. The idea of adapting to the horses and spending a lot of time with them as part of the herd was important. We started the morning early, with a training session with some of the horses, before breakfast which was at seven o'clock. After breakfast there was often a little more training of the horses, and moving them to areas with food. The hottest part of the day was spent with the horses. I either sat in the hammock inside the main area or under a tree in one of the places where we grazed with the horses. Some of this time was spent reading a book or studying the syllabus for equine massage training, but most of the time I was just with the horses. It was a magical feeling to feel so much part of a herd of horses.

 

It was during the period with Stina that my way of seeing the horse's communication changed. I had long been interested in communication, but previously I only saw moments of communication. There could be many of them and they came at a short distance, but there were still several communicative single events. While I spent all those hours with the herd this changed. Communication between the horses takes place constantly. All the time there are small endings in placement, energy and ideas (prompts?) for what to do. Some of these ideas (calls?) are followed, others are not. This does not mean that the horses constantly moved around each other to decide who is the boss, but that they all work together and in relation to each other.

 

In the afternoon, I usually went on long walks in the rainforest in the area. I could be alone or with others. The trips I remember best were when we took all the horses out, some were leased with collars and some were loose. We often spent the day swimming with the horses down on the beach, picking mangoes and watching the sunset.

 

At Stina's I also had my first encounter with a horse that was not confident with people, Spirit. Much of my time there was spent convincing Spirit that humans are not scary, that we mean her no harm. Being brushed, wearing a halter, being rented and going on a trip, yes simply being with people could be something nice.

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