When people ask which event led me to my profession, I often answer: at least my life, in which I had to face a lot of emotional challenges already since almost the beginning and the experiences turned into understanding later. Another big factor was that in 1998 a life-changing teacher was guided to me: this teacher was a horse called Porne.
I met Porne some years earlier in a stable where I used to take care of another horse. I saw a withdrawn, wind sucking, gray eyed horse which was a little difficult and never looked happy. I wondered how anyone can own a horse like this. Then in 1998 I ran into Porne’s owner on a bus. We all had a changed life situation and Porne and I had moved quite close to each other. I had a lot of free time and we agreed that I would once have a ride with Porne.
I wasn’t able to understand a horse’s inner needs that well that time and after the ride I was rather content with the trip. When I was about to leave the stable, the owner of the stable told me about Porne’s current more difficult situation and lack of physical care. Responsibility part in me arouse and I found myself starting to take care of that introvert, joyless, insecure horse which had had tough times throughout all his life. I wasn’t prepared to be a horse owner and therefore it took a while until Porne was fully in my responsibility. We even managed to save his teeth, although they, at the age of 10, looked like teeth of a 30-year old horse. His tack was changed to one that fitted better and grooming and exercise became more regular.
In the beginning Porne was obeying in fear of the whip and was afraid of plain hand movement. I started to realize that it cannot be right that the horse performed for me but never enjoyed the work himself. I started to wonder about the cooperation between horse and human. A big question awoke in me: how to really make a horse happy?
I realized that what I had learned by then did not reach deep enough and I told Porne: “Now I’m going to throw away everything I have learned. I’m going to listen to you, please teach me.” And that is what we did. We started from scratch and it was one of the most important turning points on our path.
Porne is a master teacher; he taught me what is logical and understandable for a horse, and that time and ego do not exist for a horse. That the path to understanding and cooperation goes through swallowing your pride, humbling yourself and letting yourself to be mirrored. He taught me what it means to deserve trust without demanding it and if I truly want to deserve respect, I can’t submit to and push down my friend. I can’t lie to myself, twist the truth or put words into the horse’s mouth. Instead I have to listen to the horse and offer him comfort and consistency.
Huge desire to learn and to a be a good human to Porne awakened in me. Besides listening to Porne I started to get more information from the internet and from books. I participated in some clinics aiming at better communication. Even though today I think differently about many issues, back then the clinics opened my eyes enough to see the door for new awareness and I knew that this was the road I wanted to walk far.
On some courses I learned to replace my intuition with techniques which I started to use routinely. For a moment I believed that in order to be a good human to Porne I had to demand little things from him constantly to earn his respect. I thought that the only way to love Porne was to be a more strict leader. By following these ideas and methods I had lost what Porne had taught me. Until I realized that even though he obediently did what I asked, the reaction was in fact just the opposite.
I participated in another kind of clinic, by Piet Nibbelink, in which the harsh leadership concept was dissolved and I cried with relief. We continued these courses of my personal recovery; I realized how many unfaced wounds I had due to the colorful past and how I had to dare to face the real feelings. I was also fortunate enough to become familiar with the teachings of the animal trainer Tuire Kaimio. Her knowledge of how horses learn and feel and her respect towards animals was a very important and fundamental influence.
Life brought me one more huge learning point; the year in which I really went down. I had to deeply learn to let go and to face myself and others even more truly and honestly. Then my whole perspective on life changed. Next year I was in a truck with Porne; Piet had invited me to his stable to work and to learn to teach, and to recover. So we moved to Holland with Porne to walk further on the path my heart knew is my path of life.
My eyes were fully opened at Klaus Hempfling’s school, since he finally spoke the language that Porne had spoken before. It brought back the world that I had given up thinking it was not something that should be felt. The sensitivity and respect towards horses that Klaus has is phenomenal and I received indisputable evidence of how important it is to give up blindness and to really face the horse. I understood, as I also had learned in difficult times, that good intentions are not always enough; deeper understanding and honesty are required. I also realized how often people have inconsistencies between the theory and practice that they teach. Being mirrored is not easy for many.
I had found the human teacher my soul had been calling me to have. I moved to another place in Holland later and there we met a fantastic little herd and Wilma. Everything fell into it’s place, life guided us together. I could also learn and teach more and more. In 2008 we were again in a truck: Wilma & Frank, the whole herd including Porne and other animals moved to a peaceful countryside in France. I of course went along for the first months. Now that Porne was in a great place and care it was time for what Wilma and life encouraged me to do: not to see Porne that often and to spend long periods learning from Klaus, travelling and teaching. Porne had become a calm leader of the herd and he was happy also when I wasn’t around.
Now I visit France when I can and I’m grateful everyday for the life he’s living now. I can’t thank Wilma and life enough for it! Meanwhile I teach in different countries cooperation based on consciousness, understanding, honesty and mutual respect. That journey is never limited to just horses but includes all creatures and ourselves.
Photos: Seppo Samuli, Wilma Grobben and Noora Ehnqvist