The Journey - by Diane Ursch
“Your mare is not an easy horse, but a horse that in the end will turn out to be the horse of your dreams. Your horse is young of mind, not a caretaker yet, extremely intelligent with a lot of energy that can carry her to a freedom that does not include you.” These were the words that Carolyn wrote to me in our classroom of my first Waterhole Rituals Insider’s Circle course about one and a half years ago. These words were true and accurate about my mare April and my relationship with her. They were words that were not easy to hear, because they were words that unveiled my inability with April. Yet… they were words that engaged my never-say-die nature to overcome my inability and become better…with my horses and, unknowingly at that time, with myself.
This is a story of my journey with April, with Carolyn and her method, and with myself. It is a story that is not easy to tell, but one that I hope will resonate with others who love their horse, but who may, at times, feel inadequate in their relationship with and training of their horse. Lastly, it is a story about self-empowerment gained from the daily practice of Carolyn’s teaching and the Waterhole Rituals.
I “met” Carolyn in November 2011, after someone mentioned her name to me. I had never heard of her. When I went to Carolyn’s website, read about her, and watched video clips, I immediately identified with her energy and her method. I ordered her books and videos, and started my first Insider’s Circle course with my mare, April, in May of 2012. April and I have joined 2 Insider’s Circle courses and 1 Extended Circle course, and we are now fortunate enough to be in Carolyn’s Bit-less Dressage program.
At the time I found Carolyn, I had had April for about 2 years and she was a bit over 5 years old. I had bought her as a 3-year-old. The total of her training had been “90 days with a cowboy.” She was a lovely mare with a sweet and willing personality, but did show some residue issues from those short 90 days of training, such as bolting to the other end of the arena the first time she saw me with a saddle in my arms. I had never trained a horse before. So I did what so many of us crazy horse-loving girls do…I decided to train April myself. All she needs is love…love….and more love…right?
April is a horse who likes people. She is high-energy. She is extremely intelligent, and sensitive, with a tendency towards bossiness. She has a great sense of humor. She has an excellent work ethic. As Carolyn said,“…she needs a person with strong focus, and who will not be intimidated by her big energy and who will allow for her energy to be there and not try to come up against it.”
Before finding Carolyn, April and I progressed in our traditional training, learning to walk, trot and canter together, going for rides in fields, having some fun together. At times we seemed to have a decent relationship. At many other times, though, there was no relationship at all. April was demonstrating an increasing amount of resistance, evidenced by difficulty just doing the simple things… leading, bridling, saddling…and lots of rearing (with me on the ground and on her back). I had used the Parelli method with my gelding Calypso. I was not able to have success using this method with April. I was saddened and frustrated, because I wanted to develop a true relationship with my horse and, most importantly, I wanted the best for her. I did not know who to turn to, as my experience with local trainers turned me off to their methods. I then thankfully found Carolyn’s program. I knew instantly that April would respond well to the Waterhole Rituals.
We did our first Insider’s Circle course with Carolyn, ending in summer 2012. From the very first days and weeks with Carolyn, I felt the change in me and in April. I felt a glimmer of true understanding of how to communicate with my horse. Prior to the Rituals, April did not care that I was present, had no interest in listening to what I asked, much less doing what I asked. Most of the time I don’t think she even knew I was in the room. Shortly after beginning the Rituals, though, April was looking directly at me, into my eyes. She was paying attention to me. She was beginning to want to be with me. She was beginning to want to listen to me and do what I asked her to do. The changes in us, April and me together, were almost instantaneous with Carolyn’s Rituals. Carolyn’s program was quickly and hugely transformative for me and my beautiful mare.
It was during that summer of 2012, though, that my personal life went into a tailspin, heading for what I expected to be divorce. During this time, my self-confidence in many areas of my life disappeared as I struggled to figure out and manage my personal issues. My only concern at the time was the safe-keeping of my animals if I lost the farm. So I moved my horses to a professional boarding barn managed by a long-time friend until I could get my life back in order.
Within this emotional turmoil, I made the decision to loan April to a professional trainer at the barn. He fell in love with her the moment he saw her. He is a nationally-recognized equine performer who showed regularly with Parelli, Cavalia, Equine Affaire, and other such organizations. My thoughts, at the time, were that I could not possibly give to April what this famous trainer could. She would be better trained with him, have a more interesting life with him, and, in essence, be happier with him. So we did a trial period. The trainer requested that I not interact with April at the beginning, as he wanted to develop his relationship with her. I respected his request and allowed him the space to do his training.
I was riding my gelding Calypso daily at the barn, so I was able to keep a close eye on this trainer and his methods with April. And it was not long at all before I began to have HUGE SECOND THOUGHTS!
Although the trainer did many things with April that I had not been able to do, he did not seem to be developing a bond with her, and April appeared to have no interest in or intention of developing a bond with him. As time passed, the successes I had experienced with April using Carolyn’s Waterhole Rituals became more and more apparent to me as I observed this trainer‘s lack of success with her. I saw that the trainer was having increasing and significant difficulty with her, to the point that he would not work her when I was present. He told the barn manager that he “had to start over every day with this horse, because he could never get her to settle.” I realized that I had misunderstood this trainer’s intention and method--despite his stellar public persona--as I was seriously re-evaluating what I had thought and done.
April assisted in my re-evaluation. Each day as I returned Calypso to the pasture he and April shared with several other horses, April would come to the gate to say hello to me, and she would watch me with fixed eyes as I walked back to my truck to go home. My heart knew that I had made the wrong decision to feel that this trainer could give my horse more than I could. No matter what my personal situation was, my horse needed to come back home with me.
And April provided the final impetus for me to reclaim her. One day she came to meet me at the gate as usual. After releasing Calypso, I walked deep into the pasture with April following right behind me. I then began to trot around and April joined me in companion trotting. I walked and trotted, and she stuck to me like glue. I ran from her, and she ran after me. I sent her off, and she bounded off and returned to me with joy. We played for quite a while. I laughed, I yelled with happiness, I cried. I thanked God for April letting me know how she felt and confirming to me what my heart knew. I thanked God for allowing me to experience this huge lesson and that I would be getting my April back.
I brought my horses home the next morning. They had been away from my farm for 3 months.
For a week we shared territory, just enjoying being back home together. In my first play session with April, we not only picked up where we had left off…we were improved! Our connection had grown stronger, our bond deeper. This was amazing to me. This would not have been possible if the Waterhole Rituals had not been our foundation.
I had a call with Carolyn soon after the horses came back. As we discussed my experience with April and where to go next, Carolyn asked me if I now understood what I had with my mare. Yes….I did. But what a road to travel to learn that lesson. The bond that I had had with April, and that I re-discovered with her arrival back to my farm, would not have developed had Carolyn’s method not empowered me to grow with my horse. I did not understand my growth, my empowerment, until the end of this particular journey with April, an end which essentially became the beginning of a magical evolution we are experiencing together.
Carolyn wrote in one of her blogs…”If I do not acknowledge my new empowerment that I gain from each day, it will not stick, for there was not enough nurtured attention for this new strength to grow.” I love that. But we do not always acknowledge our new empowerment, do we? Sometimes we may suppress it, not believing in ourselves enough or being hesitant of self-expression, of self-recognition, of self-acceptance. Sometimes we do not even know the empowerment is there…we may need to re-experience it several times until we get to the recognition point, the “Ah…I see…” point, when we can say to ourselves “ I learned that today.” “I understood that today.” “I felt that today.” Acknowledging our new empowerment creates in us a reservoir of understanding and child-like confidence that allows our hearts to open and us to be in the moment. This is where we can find the composure and courage to pause, to focus, to lead, to dance. Acknowledging our empowerment helps us to delineate where we are going, what we need to do to continue on a path or change to a new, perhaps more beneficial path. What we need to do to grow. Grow with our horses. Grow within ourselves. Grow in our lives. For me it took the journey of nearly losing my beloved horse to learn this. Do not doubt what you have with your horse. It is real, it is there, and it will reveal itself with evolution.
I love this woman named Carolyn Resnick. We have not met in person yet. I certainly hope to one day. But meeting Carolyn in person is not necessary to understand that she is special in this world. She is wisdom, passion, caring, intuition, talent, and grace. Her program embodies these qualities, and I am privileged to take part. Her Waterhole Rituals helped me to learn how to live in the moment and in rhythm with my horses. Her Bit-less Dressage program is teaching me how to train in that rhythm, train while staying in companionship with my horse, while staying in the moment...because that is where empowerment occurs, the heart opens, and the extraordinary happens.
Thank you, Carolyn.
A Note from Carolyn - Leadership Guided by Horses
There is magic in the spirit of horses.
This magic feeds our soul, our growth and our well being working around and with horses. Because of this reward we want to be sure to feed the spirt of our horse from the training we offer to him. Our leadershp needs to be adjusted by our horse to suit his nature and how he is feeling in the moment.
From bringing the right approach into our leadership activites gives us the ablility to connect to the very heart of our horse. The magic is grown when we allow the free spirit of our horse to dance with no inibitions. In this freedom we can still be in control of the horse and that the horse follows our direction without being confined. The free spirit that is allowed in the training of horses enlivens our soul as it enlivens our horses to dance from his enthusiasm to do so.
Leadership is our greatest teacher in how to create harmony and unity with all living things.
It is our greatest teacher in how to create partnerships that can be trusted. We receive our guidance in how to lead from our horses respose to our leadership. When in harmony with life and the spirit of the horse our leadership has the ability to nurture both the soul of our horse and ourselves.
Not having to depend upon enforcement of leadership is the secret to life and peace on earth.
When we do not rely on force we find a way that brings a loyal trust and meaningful support system to our very existence. What we are wanting to create is a desire in our horse to want our leadership that is created through resonance rather than manipulation. All of this is what is found in the practice of the Waterhole Rituals with a proper guide.
My online Waterhole Rituals course offers a magical connection with horses as a way to train them.
In the Insider's Circle course I am able to coach you for your individual needs and interests on the subject of connection, cooperation and magic.
- This is what you will need -
Enough experience to read your horse in how he is feeling about you and his enviroment and how to stay safe around your horse. You will need a horse that you can easily move away from you and stay away if this is your wish. You will need to be able to influence your horse to walk, trot, and preform an enlivened canter. You will need a horse that is easy to work with to be able to learn the ways of nature. This is not a "fix it" course. The focus is developing your horsemanship skills and how to develop a magical connection with your horse through the training process. It is a course to develop creative leadership and find a philosophy that will influence a horse to connect with you in magical ways.
Horses care about how we choose to interact with them.
Horses put their attention in figuring out what drives us to do the things we do. Horses understand that we are all different and when they understand how we choose to interact they go about their business in how they are going to handle us as individuals. The Waterhole Rituals offer you a code of coduct at liberty without tack that produces magical results training horses and a philosophy to live by that will empower your life experience with others. This course I hope will be the most exciting ever with lots of new videos of horses you have yet to meet.
Whoopy whang joy!!!
Have a great weekend! Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.