Starwyn is a beautiful 11.1 HH Welsh Mountain Pony (Section A) mare. She is now 11 years old. I fell in love with her at ‘first sight.' A neighbor had her for 2 years when he gave her to me because he was unable to care for her.
When she came to me, she was frightened of humans, very overweight, had mild founder…and great unhappiness. She had a long history of abuse, a story not unfamiliar to many ponies. Determined to give her a good life, I started her training in Liberty Foundations by setting her free.
I put her in the pasture with my horses for the first time, and the transition was smooth as silk. My herd was Liberty Foundations trained, with a Caretaking Leader. Finally Starwyn had a herd and freedom. I removed her halter and lead rope, which she had worn at all times with her former owner, and as I released her into the pasture I made a promise: I would wait for her as long as it took, until she came to me willingly.
And so I sat on the step of the feed barn in meditation at times, walking quietly among the horses at times, reading at times. Day after day. She became healthy with weight loss and good care. After 5 ½ months (I think this is a record) she approached and played with my hair. I hardly dared move, but finally I reached out and gave her a gentle scratch. I continued to get small encounters, but mostly the fear remained. She started accepting a carrot or alfalfa cube from my husband. She learned the Foundation Activities, but was hesitant and tentative. Greetings were rare and walking with me was rarer. When visitors came, she retreated to the far corner of the pasture.
Still, my now-healthy pony was remote. The deep bond I craved wasn't there.
I wondered…and decided to pretend I was afraid of Starwyn, and hope this would make her more confident! Whenever my pony looked at me with both eyes, I backed away quickly with a fearful attitude. I saw her begin to change her body language. Then one day I went into the pasture, practicing Walking a Horse Down, that ancient practice of Native Americans, walking behind different members of the herd. When I approached Starwyn, she gave me a dirty look and pinned her ears at me! I felt like dancing in the street and celebrating. I took a step back and told her she was a good girl and left.
Now the task became a balancing act. The next time I went to Starwyn, the rudeness happened with more confidence; I said “Good girl! Now go trot!” I sent her away, and she came back, interested. We continued in this vein, and her demeanor changed before my eyes. Courage, bravery and self-confidence developed with more hours of Sitting, Standing and Walking Meditation. This took place in a two-month period of time.
Carrying a Rider
Then a young student came for Liberty Foundations lessons with my herd. She was 11 years old, and small enough to ride a pony. She rides her own horse skillfully, and has an inborn connection with horses. She has loved Starwyn for years. We haltered Starwyn, and the child slipped on her back, soft as butter, smooth as silk. First I led Starwyn around the arena. Her slight tension relaxed; I stepped back and single-lined her around the arena, with her rider giving the barest suggestion of rein aids. Starwyn’s gait lengthened as she started enjoying her very first ‘real’ ride. I removed the line, and they continued to ride, praising this sensitive little mare most of all for her beautiful halts. They rode for about a half-hour that way, with my lead horse walking alongside on the outside of the arena, proud of his little mare. Starwyn was very proud of herself, and I was ecstatic. The young girl slipped off Starwyn, led her to a chair, and gave her a handful of hay pellets. That pony was smiling. We all were. Then came the truth. Off came the halter. Starwyn didn't even consider running away; she stayed for grooming at liberty, enjoying all the little perks of the experience, even having her tail braided. Now Starwyn is a reliable riding pony who enjoys her work immensely.
And now, a Teacher!
She is a fine school horse who comes to the arena when students arrive, checking to see if she is the lucky horse who will help teach the Liberty Foundations and/or riding. She has become quite bossy, and reminds visiting horses that she is a lead mare who doesn't allow nonsense in her pasture. I can hardly stop smiling.
At our Liberty Foundations September Clinic, Starwyn asked to share her story. I spoke of her journey as she listened attentively. For the first time, she offered a beautiful greeting to each clinic participant, as they learned the appropriate energy to use with this gallant little mare.
Starwyn had her own gift for each of them: She raised her muzzle and offered to share breath with each one.
Sharing Breath is one of the Liberty Foundations activities, taken from an ancient Native American practice of gentling horses. Enjoy a slideshow of that beautiful afternoon, when Starwyn conquered her fears and became who she was born to be. I should have named her Braveheart.
(c) Ruella Yates, 2013
Liberty Foundations Online with Ruella! Next class: January 14!
Join me for 7 weeks of Exploring Liberty using Native American and Old West traditions in a 'new' way of liberty training that is as old as the time horses and the 'first people' came together in the American West.
Cost, 300.00 investment in relationship: mutual love, trust and respect that will amaze you.
Here's a link to a PayPal Buy it Now button to secure your place: http://www.libertyfoundations.com
- Walking A Horse Down and the other Liberty Foundations
- How to create the bond of your dreams with your horse
- Energetic exercises and grounding for strong leadership
- How to leave your ego at the pasture gate, becoming self-less with horses
- What makes a good leader in the horse’s opinion, establishing deep respect
- Overcome fear and past trauma in both your horse and yourself
- Know what your horse is thinking
- Normalize your horse's behavior both with you and with other horses
- Create the Orb of Safety for mutual trust
January 14, 2015 (Intro, First Lesson), January 28, February 11, February 25 at your choice of 12:00 noon or 7 p.m.
Central Time (US & Canada)
The noon classes are popular with European students, as that time is in the evening there.
- Video and photo lessons
- Online Classroom lessons
- Four online Webinars with analysis of your submitted videos and Q & A
- Downloadable recordings of all online conferences
- Access to Ruella throughout the 7 weeks for Q & A on a private webpage, or, if needed, by phone.