ST Mastery student Astrid van der Laan from South Africa passed Riding 1 with her mare Annie and with that Touchstone, she has passed all 5 Touchstones in Grade 1 in the ST Evaluation Program!
Astrid has a beautiful STory to share about finding Straight Training with her previous horse, Djinni, meeting Marijke in 2016, and her growth and insights since then with her new horses, Annie and Navi, along with how the ST Academy has helped her on her ST journey:
"Life can be defined through the memories of moments we cultivate. This, passing Grade 1 in the ST Evaluation Programme, is one of those moments, both infinitesimal in the bigger picture and an immense accomplishment in the present, a bit of a paradox, if you will.
Like many South Africans, I found Zaneta Georgiades and through her, ST, while searching for alternative methods to train and be with my horse, Djinni. At the time, Djinni presented me with many challenges; I had considered her pushy, unmotivated, and difficult to work with. Signing up and diving deeply into ST Mastery Programme at the beginning of 2016, I discovered that what I had labeled as naughtiness, was rather a lack of motivation and understanding in my horse combined with a lack of clarity in myself. What I had considered as pushiness, was an imbalance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states in Djinni and more so, myself.
Through the progressive training in the ST Academy and the expert guidance of Zaneta in lessons, workshops and Touchstone feedback, Djinni and I thoroughly benefited from more authentic interactions with each other. I appreciated the littlest efforts she offered me, and in return, she gave me so much more.
Towards the end of 2016, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in lessons with Marijke de
Jong. Unfortunately, though, Djinni had become rather ill shortly before. The spirit of the ST community shone through and I was loaned a horse for the clinic. Marijke was a phenomenal teacher during this period. Before, I had isolated all the training pillars into separate boxes but she showed us how everything organically shines through the same essence. These lessons opened my eyes to how everything is connected when focusing on the bigger picture.
While I can be easily overwhelmed, Marijke’s compassion and her passion to teach shines through the entire ST Academy - the Mastery encyclopaedia, Evaluation Program, mastermind sessions, and live lessons. She, along with Zaneta and the ST Instructors are masters of teaching how the fundamental search and ultimate understanding of the “Why” is considered to be paramount above all else. In my learning to search, often times hitting me through blinding flashes of the obvious, I am discovering my reason, my why.
Shortly after Marijke completed her tour of the Atlantic, I lost Djinni. I had lost the prospect of putting into practice the inner feeling I had gained. I was lost… or so I thought. The strength of the ST community rallied again and Zaneta’s horse-human matchmaking prowess paired me with the most wonderful horse I graduate with today, Annie.
Annie has opened my mind as to how rewarding it is to be open to change, to be adaptable, and to come to every training session with an empty cup. She has been, and continues to be, the best teacher; to look at challenges head on; to think-act-check-change continuously; to be clear, nevertheless gentle; to be in the present and keep the goal in mind, to go slow to go fast…. to embrace the paradox.
By going through the stresses and tribulations of submitting Touchstones Annie and I have found something special. Going through the Evaluation Program can be likened to panning for gold, your own unique gold. Marijke, the ST Instructors, and Evaluators cannot tell you what your gold nuggets looks like, how big or small they are, when you’re going to find them; but they do tell you to dig, where to dig, how to dig and why to dig. It’s not always fun, at times it can be extremely tough, but the feeling I experience when finding my golden nuggets is euphoric and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.
Looking back, I could not offer Djinni what she needed, but through the challenges we had faced together, unbeknown to me at the time, Djinni had placed me on a path in search of Self-Mastery. To stand up for myself, to be confident and to be my own explorer. In this, is my greatest paradox; grief that she is no longer on this path with me, but pure jubilation for the opportunities that I have had from these circumstances and the contentment that Annie, and my newest horse, Navi, bring to me.
Marijke once said in a Mastermind webinar that we highly overestimate what we can do in one year but we grossly underestimate what we achieve in 10. If I put myself in the middle and look back only 5 years, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being where I am now. I sincerely look forward to the next 5 years and reflecting on this journey and my memories of moments to come."
~ Astrid van der Laan, South Africa
To hear more about Astrid's experience in the ST Academy, you can watch the case study below of the students stabled at Cadence Equine Centre, of which Astrid is one:
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