Gina Serkasevich from the USA is a Scholar in the Basic ST Instructor Certification Program and recently, Gina graduated in the Straightness Training Academy in Grade 1 in all five training pillars: groundwork, longeing, work in hand, riding and Straightness Training at liberty.
Congratulations Gina, keep up the good work in the Certification Program!
And thanks, Gina, for taking the time to share your STory with us:
❝ I fell in love with horses when I was three years old. Regardless of the stage of life I was in, they have always been a part of my life in some way. When I moved to Texas after working abroad, the first thing I did was look for a stable to ride at and managed to acquire a few youngsters to train and eventually compete.
With the horses, work, family etc I became so overwhelmed that I was ready to end my horse passion and just be responsible for my kids. I had taken the last horse in my barn to the vet one day and met a man and his wife that ran a horse adoption facility. They actually infiltrated certain places to save horses from their demise or harmful treatment. The man looked at my 17HH gelding in the stall while we were waiting for the Vet and he said “ We have a filly at our place now that will be just as big, you should come have a look.” I told him this was my last horse that I plan on selling and getting out of training and competing horses. He gave me his card and said “I think you should just come for a visit.”
As much as I wanted to decline, I eventually called him up and set up a time to go by their place. In the field, a mare and foal were grazing, and as I walked out with the wife to see them, the little filly came, sniffed us and then started running back and forth, kind of happy like, jumped a fallen tree and ran back to us. The wife said “She hasn’t done that for anyone before, you know a horse picks their rider.” Whether she was being truthful or not, I didn’t care, the filly stole my heart and I adopted her on the spot.
So much for giving up the horses and thankfully for her - she saved me because there was no way I would have been able to cope with the day to day challenges if it wasn’t for her.
As the year’s progressed, she gave me her whole heart from the beginning and we competed in hunters, jumpers with much success.
Unfortunately one year we had an incident at a show which caused a recurring pain in her right hind.
This was a huge concern and set back in my mind. In one moment, everything was going so well, actually 6-7 years, and then in an instant it was all gone. Then, for a while it was all about getting back to the place we were vs accepting the new situation and going from there. Frustration, defeat and the relationship with my horse was suffering.
Once I realized that it wasn’t my circumstance and it was my horse’s, I looked for all means to help her. She gave me so much and I needed to repay her for that and get her healthy once again whether she could complete again or not. I swore I would help her regain her health and strength. She saved me, I was bound to save her.
I searched for many remedies with no success.
While looking for ways to help her, I came across ST while searching for options online. I did not want surgery or have her subjected to injections as in my mind it only masked pain. If it was bad and she was injected, I wouldn’t be able to tell if she was hurting or not and thought it could make her situation worse.
I believed ST could help as at that moment her back was no longer round over her topline and her push off her left hind to right front was visably greater than the other diagonal causing further issues with her right front. As I was reading about ST on balance, shifting COM back and the exercises to get a horse more symmetrical, I believed this could help her.
So I ran across Marijke’s ST classes and immediately started with Saphira. It was slow going at first, but then I was fortunate that Carolin Moldenhauer was hosting a clinic about 6 hours away. That clinic gave me a clearer understanding of the material and the boost to help my horse. I can proudly say that the significant asymmetrical problems I was dealing with have improved so much that I not only was able to jump Saphira again but have competed her up to 4th level dressage ready to go to the next level with a more balanced, supple and less tense horse.
I believed this progression was the best way to build the horses muscles and neurological pathways in a correct way to help her become more symmetrical and balanced - back to a healthy way of moving and doing so while carrying a rider. It was much more challenging than it looked 😎, but with the resources available and Marijke’s years of research and knowledge helped me keep moving forward.
I have also acquired two other horses in which I started them right off with ST and are doing very well.
Today, my 15 year old mare is moving like a 3 year old out in the field. I did not have to put her through surgeries or injections etc that were always recommended to me for her. I truly believe she would be retired, uncomfortable, and as Marijke puts it, “a grass eating head”. The knowledge I’ve gained from the ST program definitely opened my eyes to looking at the whole horse, from anatomy, behaviour, natural asymmetry, communication, patience and development etc. There is still so much to learn and process. An exciting journey to see how far we can go as partners.
This process has also developed my young horses from the start of their journey.
When I first started with my young horse Roman, she barely could bend left and going to the right, she was so bent that it was difficult for her to go straight. After the time spent with her doing ST, she almost bends better left and has pretty close muscle development on both sides. She is supple, more balanced and getting stronger and stronger each day, improving on shifting the COM back vs falling onto her forehand to find her balance.
Every day, I seem to learn more and am able to apply the fine tuning to continue to develop them in a healthy way and in their time. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes it takes a year but there is always improvement. Just like a human diet or exercise program for body, mind and soul, so it goes with the horse - it is a lifestyle, a daily practice to be the best we can be.
I became more aware of each horse’s characteristics, behavior and communication and how to help them meet their highest potential in a healthy way vs making them do work that I wanted or expected. I have become more in tune with their communication and patient to allow them to increase their strength as needed without forcing them to do things or to do things too long when they are not yet ready in mind or body.
I think the biggest item is “listening”. When I pay attention to their communication, we both develop a lot faster. I learned they are my best teacher. Everything they do tells me something - I have learned to listen, observe and feel. It is so cool that they allow me to work with them in this way almost magical at times. The outside world almost disappears when we are moving together.
Horses have also been a good example for me in human relationships. The patience, understanding and calmness I continue to develop with the horses also transpires into my human relationships. I hope I am becoming a better person. Now this is not all attributable to ST, but I owe a large part of it to it in combination to my other practices - everything is coming together.
Thank you ST!!!!❞
~ Gina Serkasevich, USA
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