Waterhole Rituals and sustainable horsekeeping – clinic news

It always amazes me how much you can get out of a clinic even when it is bitterly cold and windy.

saying hello

Two weekends ago in Oklahoma City at Spirit Horse Ranch was no exception. Well, in a way, this clinic was an exception as the clinic was taught by two Carolyn Resnick certified trainers, Stina Herberg from the island of St. Vincent in the Grenadines and Ruella Yates of Liberty Foundations at Spirit Horse Ranch, Oklahama City area. I was there to assist.

Stina on board Rennaissance Painter.
Stina on board Rennaissance Painter.

The attendees came from as far away as Tokyo with many people from surrounding states. The day started on Saturday with showing the first of Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals, “Sharing Territory” with Karen Corn’s Elijah showing people how it was done. Elijah is an old hand at the rituals and quickly sought out those people who didn’t know them to mooch treats off. It was an excellent exercise in demonstrating what could happen even in the simplest Waterhole Ritual of all.

The day progressed with  five horses who learned the basics and quickly learned several rituals. Some needed time to integrate the work over night and came back the next day ready to do more. It was amazing to witness the change in them from the first day and reaffirmed my knowledge of how quickly horses take to this work because it is their language.

Ruella leading Rose from behind.
Ruella leading Rose from behind.

That day we worked on some leading from behind, companion walking and on Day 2, Stina did a demonstration of bridleless, bareback preparation. Once a horse has all the rituals firmly in place plus the “Uberstreichen Exercises,” they are ready to participate in this next step.

The horses we worked with spanned a wide range of personalities, from shy, bold, distracted, and quiet. This is excellent for students to experience how it is necessary to change your energy and approach to best meet the needs of each horse. Karen Corn’s mini Elijah and Ruella Yates’ miniStrider also provided hours of entertainment racing around and playfighting, demonstrating a fun aspect of herd behavior.

Stina working with Lalo's gas pedal.
Stina working with Lalo’s gas pedal.
Stina lets a number of her horses run free while they ride in the jungle.
Stina lets a number of her horses run free while they ride in the jungle.

Interesting that both clinicians hosting the Waterhole Rituals clinic  practice some form of sustainable horsekeeping. Ruella has carefully managed pastures and areas for her horses to go, modeled after a Paddock Paradise by Jaime Jackson. Stina Herberg is based on the island of St. Vincent’s in the Caribbean, where she has created a modified Paddock Paradise for her horses. Sustainable horsekeeping in this sense means that the landscape can support the horses. Although Ruella’s pastures don’t completely sustain her horses, she pays attention to what they eat and manages their sugars and starch intake very carefully. This means making sure the horses are not on grass during certain parts of the day when the grasses have more sugar in them and she does not feed them any concentrated, unnatural food. She also maintains an herb garden that the horses can visit to help themselves to any herbs they might need for maintaining health.

Minis unleashed
Minis unleashed

Stina’s horses were wild before she took them on, and are accustomed to foraging for food on the island. As they  now live with her, they have some fresh grass to eat, but largely eat fruit, nuts and seeds that are found locally. They will seek her out to get her the best fruit from the trees, that are out of reach. In fact, she said that was how she managed to get the horses interested in her in the first place. They saw her as a useful being who could get them bananas from the highest places in the trees. Her horses also maintain self-trims and don’t require any professional hoof care. Stina is the director of the Richmond Vale Academy, a school teaching students how to make countries like St. Vincent sustainable and self-sufficient. She also runs a horse school for youngsters on the island

If you are undecided about what horse clinics you want to attend this summer, consider a Carolyn Resnick Method Waterhole Ritual clinic. These clinics will take you through all the seven rituals and help you on your journey to having a deeper relationship with your horse.  No matter how many times I do the rituals, I learn something new from them and from each horse who is introduced to them.

 Video by Stina Herberg

Photos by Lori Hinkle (excepting Stina riding photos – Susan Smith).

Private sessions and gift certificates are available for bodywork and liberty work, by calling 505.501.2478 or emailing susansmith@orthohorse.info

Click on this flyer to find out about my upcoming Spring Liberty Clinic to be held March 30th in Santa Fe. There are still spaces available. A Horses at Liberty 2-Day Foundation Clinic will also be held in Santa Fe May 11-12. I will put a flyer out on this event soon.



6 thoughts on “Waterhole Rituals and sustainable horsekeeping – clinic news

  1. What a beautiful blog about our clinic at Spirit Horse Ranch! Susan didn’t mention that she was here to assist at this clinic, in her new role as a Carolyn Resnick Suggested Trainer! Thank you for that, and for being part of three Waterhole Rituals professionals at one clinic!

  2. This method is so wonderful and I enjoyed the clinic. I love the people I meet at the clinics and I have seen major changes in myself and my horses using this method. Thank you Susan, Ruella, and Stina for your guidance!

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