My Horses, My Heart
I’m living the dream. And the dream is real. The dream of living with horses was with me from the beginning of my life, when I knew the way to be with horses. And now again, thanks to Carolyn Resnick, my inspiration, my teacher, and my dear friend, I know again the way to be with horses, nourishing their wild hearts and merging with their ways until at times I feel more horse than human. It’s been a long journey back, with the last years filling me with such gratitude for the incredible joy of living on the prairie with my own herd, knowing their thoughts, breathing their breath. How did I get to this magical place? The Horse Nation came for me in my busy, sometimes frenetic life and brought me home.
As it happened in my life, being an adult got in the way. The little girl who always said she would have a horse ranch didn’t get one. But she lived an extraordinary life, infused from birth with the gentle ways of horses, their unbridled spirits and their beauty. Raising a family with a mostly-inspiring teaching career had its times of brilliance and times of endurance, always making time for the joy of horses, even if they weren’t mine. And my dreams were filled with horses, running horses carrying me away. I wondered why I was running away with the horses until I realized we were running toward something, and resolved to find where they were taking me.
My children became adults; I retired from teaching and began to make a new life. I promised myself time with horses each week, finding a local ranch who graciously welcomed me to ride their trails. And then in a rush, horses seemed to come from everywhere, leading me to spend most of every day at a boarding stable, being with my beloved horses.
My whole life had been spent in a study of horses. I knew different training methods, but found no resonance there. I chose ‘Natural Horsemanship’ as something I could do. I used the parts I could and ignored the rest, never finding the place inside me that would allow me to hit a horse. During this time, a new book was released: Naked Liberty, by Carolyn Resnick. There was the resonance I longed for! Another little girl came to me, she growing up in the desert as I grew up on the Plains! Amazingly, in a short time, this led to the purchase of my own Spirit Horse Ranch, named for the horses who lived in my dreams and in my paintings. As my own beloved herd came to me, I researched The Carolyn Resnick Method, and to my delight found that she was starting an online class within a month. I rushed to enroll, and my life changed forever.
Learning The Carolyn Resnick Method
Carolyn’s class rang true from the beginning. I knew she had found the key to bring back the natural, in-born way of horses. I compared her Waterhole Rituals with finding the Rosetta Stone, an ancient carving that enabled early archaeologists to translate hieroglyphics. She had indeed discovered the true herd language of horses and translated it into human terms. There was no talk of dominance in Carolyn’s method. It was the gentle language of herd animals who chose their leaders for their wisdom. Through the clear language of the method, I saw my horses respond in ways that were familiar to me. I knew this was what I was looking for, as it awakened memories of my earliest childhood contact with horses. I felt back with my grandfather again, with his gentle strength guiding me in the ways of horses. I knew Carolyn on a deep level, as though I had known her for years, and I continued to study the nuances of the method, enrolling again and again for online classes, talking and learning online and sending videos of my beautiful horses, so grateful for what we were becoming together.
Carolyn Resnick, a Force of Nature!
And then it happened. Carolyn suggested I come to Escondido to her now-famous Dances with Horses Ranch to study with her personally. I couldn’t have known what awaited me. The experience was so incredibly powerful that it took my knowledge to a whole new level. I was no longer with my herd who loved me, but with horses who came to Carolyn with baggage, some of it, I suspected, still unpacked. When I arrived, I met Carolyn personally and felt that I had known her forever. She is and always will be a treasured friend. Her Beyond the Waterhole Rituals 8-Day Clinic was the most powerful learning experience of my life. There was a day that I felt I didn’t have what it took, but when I awoke the next morning, my boots hit the floor and I knew I did. Carolyn propelled me into being a leader for all horses, not just my own herd. Each horse I touched there brought streaming tears as I realized they were all a part of my own beloved herd who welcomed me because I came to them with their own language. I returned home on fire to spread the word of what happened on that hillside in Escondido. I ran first to my own herd, waiting in their dark prairie pasture, knowing I was coming home. They loved what they saw in me as we came together again, and knew, too, that life was forever changed.
Carolyn and I, by now fast friends, stayed in close touch. She watched with interest as I began teaching others the strength of the Waterhole Rituals. And then one morning, I got the incredible news that Carolyn was granting me Certification in her Method. I’m still in that same magical state that grew in me in Escondido, and forever grateful for living the dream.
Now I’m conducting clinics and coaching sessions, still feeling that same surprised exhilaration with every horse who recognizes that I speak his own language! Here is the story of my first client.
Cowboy, MaryGaye and Me
I understand that everyone has dramatic results with The Waterhole Rituals. Still I felt that this story was worth telling as it unfolded for me, and is still unfolding.
An Old Friend, A New Horse, My First Client
MaryGaye LeBoeuf had been a casual friend for several years; she was a fellow boarder at a barn before we bought a place to have my horses at home. Through Facebook, we caught up on old times, and she followed my progress with The Carolyn Resnick Method. I had heard through that famous ‘grapevine’ that a horse I hadn’t met had come to the barn and terrorized the whole herd. I found that he belonged to MaryGaye, and his name was Jetalitos Cowboy Kid, a Paint Quarter Horse with warfare on his mind. She told me about him in love-drenched words,
No one told you that with me, he is loving, gentle and kind. I just don’t know what to do for him.
I learned that Cowboy had recently been worked by a trainer using dominance, pressure-based training. It seemed to work for a short while, but then his dangerous behaviors continued and escalated. MaryGaye, hearing that Carolyn Resnick was coming to Oklahoma City, immediately signed up for her October clinic with a private lesson, hoping that Carolyn could help Cowboy.
She considered preparing a video of Cowboy with the herd of horses, showing his violent behavior, and then asked if I could come see her horse. I had recently returned from Escondido, working personally with Carolyn and infused with amazing confidence for working with horses outside my own herd. Carolyn had spoken with me about horses like Cowboy, and I felt that the Rituals could ease his heart and offer him a measure of joy and peace in his life. I found that Cowboy was a horse with high dominance and high fear, perhaps because of early events in his life.
The Rituals Work their Magic
On our first visit, I said Hello and put out a pile of hay. This powerful horse knew something important was happening. His expressive eyes looked into me as I assured him he was safe, and The Waterhole Rituals began. This brilliant horse went through the Rituals as if they were his native language, which of course, they are. MaryGaye walked beside me, feeling his tremendous energy through our work, amazed at his sensitivity. We did each Ritual with him, making sure to keep it pure and clear.
The most important predictor of success for this horse and human was the love they bore each other. The bond was there, and MaryGaye was willing to try one more thing for the sake of her horse.
So she proceeded and persisted with the Waterhole Rituals. She knew from this beginning that The Waterhole Rituals were the right approach for Cowboy. I visited them a number of times; when she reached a snag, she called, and we kept on with support. It’s a wonderful story, but the most moving part of the story to me, and to MaryGaye, is the paradigm shift in Cowboy’s behavior within his herd.
Today Prince was eating hay out of the wheelbarrow inside the barn and Cowboy walked down beside him; they were both eating out of the wheelbarrow together. Unheard of!! Just one time taking territory and an unbelievable paradigm shift. What an extreme difference there is between before WHR and after WHR.
We nurtured this horse by asking things that felt right to him, so he got in the habit of doing what he was asked to do; and now he wants to do what you’re thinking of doing. Trail-riding became a complete joy as Cowboy’s learning transferred to riding. He no longer engages in dangerous behaviors on the trail. His extreme attacks on other horses stopped. He remains lead horse in a herd of 30, but over a relatively short period he became a playful, kind leader and caretaker. The other horses knew something big had happened, and moved seamlessly with the change.
A New Horse at the Barn
Saw another break through for Cowboy today. There is a new horse at the barn in the first stall on the left. He was out in his paddock today. Normally Cowboy lays back his ears, charges the fence and horse with head down and snaking, and he then turns and kicks. Today, for first time since the first day he arrived here, he walked up to the fence, ears pricked straight forward, neck slightly arched and went to say hello to the new horse. No aggression at all! After sniffing noses for a moment, Cowboy squealed and pawed once. But it was not aggressive or threatening in any way. Tomorrow I’m going to do Taking Territory and Eye Contact again out by the hay bale.
Thank You for Setting me Free
Then came the big day of a Clinic at Spirit Horse Ranch, my home. Cowboy was one of the guest horses, and he had a surprise for MaryGaye and me, as well as everyone who witnessed this beautiful event. MaryGaye demonstrated the Rituals with Cowboy, who performed like a champion. Then he walked to the arena’s fence, inviting her to get on his back. She did so, completely without tack. What followed was a joyous horse celebrating liberty with the performance of all he knew. It was a thank you to his owner for setting him free.
This morning I got a message from MaryGaye with this joyful message:
WHR note: Yesterday I almost caused a car accident on Morgan Road. I was driving to the barn when I glanced over and almost slammed on my brakes when I saw Cowboy running and playing with another horse! He and Koda would face each other, nipping and rearing and then Cowboy would take off at a gleeful canter with Koda chasing him. Cowboy would run in a big circle, and when he got tired he would signal Stop by kicking up both heels (non-aggressively) and then they both stopped. Koda would approach and the game would start over. I stopped at the lease road and watched this first-time-ever show, with 4 or 5 repeats, totally amazed. I have never seen Cowboy run and play in the 4 years I have had him. Then, when they finished with their game, Cowboy gently herded several horses, Leading from Behind, up into a corner of the pasture for a rest! It was so amazing and touching to see him learning how to be a gentle respectful leader and playmate! (MaryGaye LeBoeuf)
Breaking the Code
There’s my horse/human sighting for today, Carolyn. I, along with each of my students live in gratitude that you ‘broke the code’ of horse behavior so we could save this beautiful horse’s life and the lives of more each day. You wrote the Rosetta Stone for the language of horses. Now we know. The word is spreading. And it must. For the good of horses and the people who love them. Frequent introductory clinics at Spirit Horse Ranch are igniting excitement for this ‘new’ way of being with horses. Private coaching sessions for nearby students and three-day intensive clinics for people bringing their horses for onsite training are on the calendar as the passion ignites in the hearts of people who have always wished for a better way of being with horses. Join us in the unstoppable flow.
Please join us October 6 and 7 at Spirit Horse Ranch, near Oklahoma City, for a Waterhole Rituals Clinic by Carolyn Resnick! Enrollment is open now! Many interesting activities are planned around this clinic, as we are so excited about Carolyn’s visit!