By Stina Herberg
In 2007, I rescued a wild herd of horses. The herd was offspring from an equestrian centre that was started in the 90’s and for unknown reasons the owners had left the island. I ran into the wild and abandoned herd of horses while on a detour.
I did not plan to have seven horses, but decided to bring them all home. I got professional help from friends in Denmark to round up the wild horses and transport them the hour ride to our centre. We set up a home for the horses where they could roam free in their family herd, with shaded areas, open fields and space to walk enough to self trim their hooves.
It took the herd one year to get healthy. Although they had enough to eat where we found them, they were full of worms that had zapped them of nutrition for perhaps all their lives. Foals were born here and they were small due to undernourished mothers. We separated the two stallions from the mares in the beginning and then later we castrated them. It was very difficult to keep two wild stallions, so at one point I decided to give away one older stallion male to a man in the village that had a lonely mare.
In the beginning the horses wanted nothing to do with people and stayed as far away from me as possible. This was very good for me because I got to study the language of the herd, understand their interactions, pecking order system, how the mothers talked to their daughters, who became friends and interactions between younger and older mares and the male.
Slowly I learnt the language of horses and started to interact with the herd.
At first the only thing I could do was to walk the horses. I walked for months, and besides the good exercise I got, I walked myself into connection. Journeys on foot went through the jungle to old ruins from the time of the slave trade, to guava forests full of fruits, down river trails and down the black beaches at sunset in rhythm with the ocean.
I had taken several courses in dressage, western, clicker training and horsemanship before I arrived in St. Vincent and with a step-by-step process, I started with one of the younger mares to get used to a rider.
At this point I had forgotten all about targets and reaching goals. Anything that could happen in the way of progress or no progress did not matter anymore. I had already achieved so much, learnt so much and had completely fallen in love with the journey. My horses settled fine, got healthy, happy, and more energetic by the month and started to “speak” again. In the beginning, the herd was so silent, no running, no speaking, no naughtiness and life. Just observing the herd became a highlight in the mornings and afternoons.
Several nights I slept in my hammock under the stars with my herd.
I felt the connection growing night by night.
One day it was like two of my horses invited me for a dance. They were running around outside my room, calling, waiting, running – when I stuck my head out the window they called once again and looked directly at me.
I put on my slippers, dress and joined them in this magical dance I called “The Invitation”. My heart was beating like I was in love for the first time and I was filled with grace and in a state of thoughtless awareness.
Thank you for reading. and I look forward to share more with you
Kind regards Stina