Leena made an exceptionally beautiful clip of the seminar Being with horses that took place in Dreamvalley 7-9 of august, instructed by Birgit Meiler Ahlers. 5 horses and their owners took part in the seminar, two of them were guard parent horses from the Dreamvalley herd. I took part with Sindri and Sjaman. Julie came back with her wonderful mare Lykkja and a girl from Sollia took her 2 years old nordlandic gelding to the seminar for the first time.
I experienced Birgit like a broom wiping out old dust and bringing fresh air in our attitude and handling of the horses. She put an emphasis on the everyday interactions between the owners and their horses. Watch out: they watch us all the time! If we feed in an unclear way or move through the herd in a defensive way – how can we then expect that our horses will respect us if we ask them to go out in the countryside riding or doing playful groundwork? The horses have to believe in us and it starts in the small everyday interactions. Leading, grooming, feeding, or simply moving in a straight line through the herd.
It all starts with our consciousness about personal space. I know this since many years but I tempt to fall back into compromising attitudes moving between the herd more like a servant than like a leader. It doesn’t mean that I have to behave dominant, it just means that I take care of my personal space and walk a straight line from point a to b without making a compromising round around horses standing in my way. When leading it is easy to forget that the horse should keep one side behind me, not shift sides or creep into my space in a rather subtle way.
When the seminar took place we finally had the first warm days this summer. The horses were enjoying that and in the mornings they were rather sleepy. So we had to work on waking them up. That is also the first step when establishing a relationship of mutual respect and devotion. In my case I have overworked some of the horses here with ground’work’, so it seemed better to go out and ride in order to bring back life and joy into the relationship. Unclarity in the everyday and too ‘work’ – oriented groundwork with somewhat unclear positions can wear out a horses willingness to take part in good conversations on the ground.
So this is what we started the seminar mornings with: we lead the horses out on our gallop trail. We gallop them home so they wake up and get motivated. They see quickly that is is fun to go out that way. After a short time we can also ride them out, taking up the discussions about that if they come up. The horses find pride and joy in this way of riding.
Some days ago my icelandic gelding Sindri showed me that he is ready for a playful groundwork again, after all the gallops (I have been riding him almost every day since the seminar.) It is wonderful to watch the difference it makes!
Sjaman wants me to be a true leader and presents a true challenge as any small insecurity or unclarity on my behalf will bring us into the bushes at a gallop…
Elodie has become a wonderful riding horse and Leena rides her almost daily. They look so harmonious the two of them. Some days ago Elodie gave her a really fast gallop for the first time!
The seminar with Birgit has brought a pathway of more joyous riding and also awakening the horses by clear everyday handling to Dreamvalley. For some this may sound unspectacular but it is in the small things the devil lives they say in art. This seems to apply just as well to being with horses!