ST Mastery student Cara Reynolds from South Africa passed Riding 1 with her mare, Black Magic, and with that Touchstone, she passed all 5 Touchstones in Grade 1 in the ST Evaluation Program!
Cara has shared her interesting STory about how she met Magic, why she started Straight Training as well as what the ST Academy has given to both her and her horse over the years:
"My name is Cara Reynolds, and my ST partner is Saratoga Black Magic. We are from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I bought Magic, in 2012, when she was just 2 years old. When I first went to the stud, I was not very interested in her. The stud owner asked me to hold Magic whilst he trotted out another horse that I was initially interested in and I suppose you could say that we never let each other go. We have been connected ever since.
Magic had a very slow start, with me training and backing her myself. I was following other natural horsemanship programs, however, something wasn’t feeling right for Magic and myself. I had seen something about Straightness Training workshops on social media and for some reason the posts would always catch my attention. I went to observe my first one which was a workshop with Zaneta Georgiades and I was completely blown away.
Just from watching Zaneta’s lessons with all the wonderful participants, everything fell into place for me and made so much more sense. Since then, I have never missed a workshop with Zaneta, except for the one which was on the weekend of my wedding.
I remember my very first lesson with Zaneta, so clearly. I had come into the arena with all my old habits and expectations. Magic was flying as high as a kite on the very end of her lead and neighing at the top of her lungs. We worked through the lesson doing an exercise, that seemed very strange at the time, called ‘farm-horse’. Slowly but surely, Magic started to calm down and look to me as her person again. There was no force, no fuss and no trying to dominate over each other, but rather this feeling of trying to help each other out. From that moment on, I knew that this was our new path and direction.
On other training workshops, Magic was always known as “the crazy mare” but on Straightness Training workshops she was referred to as “a superstar”, all the horses were and true enough, all the horses and humans on the workshops ARE in-fact superstars.
The reasons are twofold. Firstly, because the horses and humans feel empowered and secondly, the essence of the exercises are just-so, that they bring out the best in both horse and human. This is a clear testament to the wonderful program that Marijke de Jong has developed and the incredibly thought out workshops that Zaneta leads. You learn so much just from watching and observing, and then even more from participating and interacting with the online program and Touchstones.
Since starting with the workshops in 2016 and then joining the ST Academy where we started to submit Touchstones in 2018, Magic has become more aligned in her mind and body. Rather than defaulting to ‘freaking out’ when she doesn’t feel quite right, she instead simply tries. She tries to figure it out and tries to engage or stretch those muscles just that little bit more to find that last 2mm.
It allows us to be in constant communication with each other rather than in a one-way monologue of me telling her what to do. Magic is now able to let me know, in the most subtle but obvious ways, where she is struggling and what feels and works well. In this way we are able to work together and progress, in our own way and time.
Straightness Training has changed Magic and I physically, mentally and emotionally. The best part is that there is still so much more to come and a huge amount of room to grow even further. I feel like this is just the beginning and what an incredible beginning it has been.
The hugest thanks, has to go to Marijke and Zaneta, for their passion, enthusiasm and never-ending knowledge, allowing us to build off of and grow in our journeys."
~ Cara Reynolds, South Africa
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