I am always amazed at how simple the daily interactions with my horses have become since The Waterhole Rituals came into my life.
OCTOBER 15, 2017
How My Journey Began
The purpose of me writing this Journal is to share with you my experience in The Waterhole Rituals. My hope is to raise awareness that will lead to a better relationship between horses and humans.
My name Nancy Zintsmaster. I live in Costa Rica and began studying the Waterhole Rituals in February of 2015. The Waterhole Rituals is a relationship based method of training a horse at Liberty, as well as a Self-realization experience. Carolyn Resnick created this method based on her many years of studying the social interactions and bonding rituals of horses in the wild. Carolyn teaches students all over the world how to connect, communicate and train a horse in the moments of flow, from ones natural instincts.
I decided to document my journey through the Waterhole Rituals, as I have been invited by Carolyn to be an instructor in her method. It is a dream come true and I am honored to share her method with the world, as not only does it fulfil me beyond words, but it also gives me a platform to be a voice for the horse. In the following pages, and in my blog section, I will be sharingsome of the miracles that I have discovered since I began this journey in 2015. I hope you enjoy them!
One day I was going to look at a used saddle that was for sale when I stumbled upon four emaciated horses in desperate need of help. My husband and I came to the rescue with our close friend Lilander who is a fellow horse lover. We drove back the following day and after much negotiating with the owner (who was no longer in Costa Rica) we brought the horses home with us. Since we already had three horses of our own, we needed to find an additional source of income to support our growing family. We started an Equine and Wellness Center which we named Kindred Connections. Our original plan was to invite like-minded clinicians to Costa Rica to hold clinics in the form of vacation getaways or retreats. Our intention was to use the income generated from this business for the feeding and care of the horses since the medical bills were piling up daily. We also wanted to learn different methods of training which is a difficult endeavor in Costa Rica.
One of my horses, Apache, was very difficult for me to handle. He was terrified of humans and his fear became dangerous. Many horse people in the village where I live in Costa Rica told me that this horse was going to kill me and to bring him to the auction for my own safety. When I rescued Apache I promised him that no one would ever hurt him again, so the auction was not an option for me! I then made a decision to contact Carolyn Resnick and see if I could host a clinic here in Costa Rica, so that I could learn her method! That was the beginning of my passion for this method!
I had been dabbling in other methods of "Natural Horsemanship" prior to contacting Carolyn, but none of it resonated with me, or Apache. Carolyn explained that she did not travel internationally, but that one of her certified instructors, Linda Salinas, did. I called Linda and she agreed to come and teach a clinic here in Costa Rica. I was elated and in February of 2015, we held our first clinic in the Waterhole Rituals at my ranch in Costa Rica. It was magical to watch Linda work with these shy, detached rescue horses who did not trust humans. Linda commented that these were by far the most difficult horses that she had ever worked with. Participants also worked with the horses each day. Slowly but surely we made progress. By Day 5, all the horses were enjoying The Waterhole Rituals and could hardly wait for their turn in the arena. Linda mentioned that we should make the arena the "sweet spot" which is better than anywhere else on that ranch. It is a place where the horses can feel safe to explore, participate, and connect if they so choose. I think we accomplished that goal! After the clinic ended, the miracles continued. Much to my surprise the next day, I discovered that Apache had jumped a fence to get to the "sweet spot" where he stood patiently waiting for me to come out and play with him. Each day my horses now gather around the arena as they wait their turn to play.
I had finally found a method of training that felt right, one that gave the horse a voice. Studying and practicing the Waterhole Rituals has been life-changing experience for me, and my horses. I knew I would have to make it my mission to spread the knowledge of this method to others throughout the world.
After the clinic, I continued to work with my horses at Liberty in The Waterhole Rituals. I took Carolyn's online Waterhole Ritual course, as well as a private clinic with Linda and several public clinics. During this time I began to feel a shift happening within me, a greater sense of peace and a deeper knowing of myself. I quickly realized that I wanted to make this my life's work.
Teaching is in my blood and I knew that it would not be easy to master this method, but I was determined to show Carolyn Resnick that I would be beneficial to her program as an instructor! Over the next few years I developed a deep bond with my horses and magic began to happen. Soon, I was dancing with my horses at Liberty! The were loving it and so was I. Now, my passion for this method grew even stronger and I decided that my commitment was serious and it was time that I meet Carolyn and work under the Master herself, so I did just that. Studying under Carolyn has been an amazing experience and I finally found my happy place. This is my true calling. Carolyn is brilliant and so much fun to work with! For the last 10 months she has been mentoring me and after much practice and determination, Carolyn asked me if I would like to teach her method! Of course, I said YES! It was definitely meant to be, and it just goes to show that dreams really do come true! For me, it has not been about the destination, but about the journey! I am loving the path I am on and love sharing my experience with others. I hope that if you are reading this that you will take the journey with me!
Lots of love and much thanks to you, Carolyn! I will make you proud!
I was in my office, getting ready to go out and play with my horses, when an email popped up from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. They were advertising their course, “Manifesting Grace through Gratitude.” I was blown away when reading this, as I had recently had a life altering experience which prompted me to make a serious commitment to practice daily gratitude. I am typically a very grateful person. I feel grateful for all that has been blessed upon me, but I can’t say that I have been mindfully practicing gratitude on a daily basis. This was wonderful to find in my inbox, but it was no coincidence, and it was not the only reason that I was blown away by receiving it.
I recently lost my horse Grace. She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on my birthday, July 9th, 2017. It was a shocking death and one that emotionally knocked me out! She died from a twisted gut and it happened so quickly that it did not even feel real. I experienced so many feelings over the loss of this precious gift who had been born two and a half years ago; fear, anger, grief, guilt, pain, heartache, sadness, desperation… The list goes on. The grief I was feeling was unbearable to me at the time. I could not bear that I had not been able to save her.
Only hours after Gracie passed, I remember being in tears while speaking to my friend Carolyn Resnick on the phone and as she was comforting me, I asked her, “Why on my birthday?” She replied, “It is a sign of rebirth and you must fine the gifts that she gave you on your birthday”. At that time, I could not imagine that there was anything good that could come out of this tragedy, but I was determined to find the silver lining.
Just after Gracie passed, my friend, Linda Salinas, who is an animal communicator, and also a certified instructor in the Carolyn Resnick Method, presented me with the gift of an animal communication session with Gracie. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to have any connection with Gracie that I could have, so of course, I was all in. She told me that it is best to wait some time before reaching out to her, so finally last week Linda asked me to send her a photo of Gracie and to send Gracie a message that someone would be contacting her for me. I did what Linda requested and the following day Linda called me and told me that she had contacted Grace and that she had a lot to say!
The following are Linda’s notes on her communication with Grace:
Core essence of Gracie: Very feminine, young, sassy, not the most well-mannered horse, independent, loves people, “baby brat”, wise, curious, playful, loved her herd.
Linda to Nancy: “The connection I am experiencing with Gracie feels very distant. There is a feeling a hook is in her that feels like she is being held back. It is coming from Nancy feeling she could have done more.”
Linda to Gracie: “Gracie, do you have any idea what happened?"
Gracie: “No I don’t I just know I kept getting weaker and weaker by the minute.”
Linda to Gracie: “Is there anything we could have done to help you?”
Gracie: “Not that I know of. In the end I accepted my fate.”
Linda to Gracie: “Is there anything you would like to share with Nancy? She has had a really hard time since your leaving. "
Gracie: “Nancy is a doer and an action person. There are many mysteries to life. Nancy needs to pray for peace. Nancy is so perfect just the way she is, but she lacks peace. She has more of a connection to drama then she does to peace. This is one of the many benefits I hope that Nancy can learn from. I know it is not easy but when one finds peace with what is, it takes the unnecessary pain out of life. It is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn. Look at us horses. We have pain, we also have acceptance of what is. This ability to make peace with the moment is something humans could learn from horses and other animals. Humans have a very strange relationship with the concept of time. Animals in general don’t. We live in the present moment. We are able to remember and recall experiences but we live in the moment.”
Linda to Gracie: “Do you have a message for Nancy?"
Gracie: “I want Nancy to know how much I loved my life. It was perfect. The energy and kindness was more than any horse could want. I am very grateful for the life I had. I want you to know how grateful I am. Please look after my mother as I know she is grieving in her own way even though you may not know it. I want Nancy to know that I had a perfect life and there is nothing I would change about it. Loving “what is” is just as important as loving one another. Yes, we understand grief but we also know to accept what is. This is a big difference between horses and humans. I know that my message is easier said than done, but acceptance will bring you peace. If you can accept to let go and surrender, while there is still pain, there is less pain. Embracing “what is” is an important lesson for Nancy to learn. Nancy volunteers often to take on the weight and pain for others. It’s a beautiful trait to have but it is also a double edge sword. There is a better way. Sitting with your pain and finding peace. Simplify your thinking. Train yourself to think differently even though you have old patterns to overcome. It will be so helpful in finding peace. Finding peace in the middle of a storm is attainable. Being grateful for what you have or have had needs to be cultivated. Gratitude is a very high vibration and experiencing gratitude in the midst of pain has infinite value. The first years of our lives come with many changes and many learning experiences. The end of our lives come with lots of changes as well. Mostly emotional changes. Be a light for all. Always hold on to the best parts of life, never the worst. It’s a discipline.
Animals are always rooting for you regardless of which side we are at (meaning physical or spiritual) always. One of the beautiful things about animals is they do not wish harm to anyone. You have much to learn about the energetic world. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, are all energy."
Linda: “The connection just ended and I thanked Gracie for communicating with me."
Since the day that Gracie gifted me with her wise words, I have been paying close attention to each and every moment. I see that each observation Gracie shared with me was an accurate description of me and the things that I need to work on in myself. What she shared with me about her Mom, Anoushka, was even more amazing.
Although I love Anoushka dearly, it had seemed that for quite some time she had not wanedt to interact with me like the other horses did. I chalked it up to her foaling and felt she needed that time with her new baby, so I spent my time caring for the 5 horses which I had rescued the year before. These horses were in bad health after rescuing them and also detached from humans. Shortly after rescuing them I had Linda Salinas come to my ranch in Costa Rica and give a Waterhole Ritual clinic. This method truly resonated with me and my horses and today I am studying to be a certified trainer in the Carolyn Resnick Method. I have spent many hours over the past 3 years training my horses in this method and it has totally changed their lives, as well as mine. Today we have an amazing connection with each other and I am overjoyed. The odd part of this equation is that I brought Anoushka into my life when she was only 6 months old. She was my special girl and we always had a deep connection and a special bond. Over the past two years, or so, she seemed detached from me and would either walk away when I approached her, or pin her ears to let me know she did not want to be bothered. I wrote this off to her being a mare and just having had a foal. I had so many horses to work with that it did not seem like a big deal to me at the time…I simply let her have her space. When Gracie told me to please look after her mother as she was grieving and I may not be aware of it, I decided to make sure that I did this for Gracie, as well as for Anoushka, and myself. I decided to take Anoushka into the arena and spend time with her just being together while Sharing Territory. She was very welcoming to this idea and again I felt a wonderful connection to her. I decided to begin to teach her some of the Waterhole Rituals and to my surprise, the magnetic connection that we had between us was undeniable. She performed like a pro and knew exactly what I was asking of her! She was an amazing dance partner and I would not have realized this at this time had it not been for Gracie’s request about her Mom. She is spreading miracles and helping guide me to cherish each and every moment.
For so many of us when something like this happens the pain is so debilitating that it is difficult to see the miracles that can come from it. I am so grateful to have received the beautiful gifts of awareness that were bestowed upon me. From these wise words of Gracie’s I can now relate to my experience of her death on a completely different level than before. I now know that she was an Angel put here on Earth for a short time to help guide me on a path of healing and transformation. It is no coincidence that my journey into a life of healing and horses began only one month after Grace was born. I now know that Carolyn was correct. Grace passing on my birthday was about rebirth and her words to me my gift.
I can’t thank Linda enough for sharing with me her gift in animal communication. Once again she has shined her light upon me and helped me find peace through the Gracie’s wisdom and what she has shared with me.
In Harmony With Horses,
The Controversy On Lessons We Give Our Horses
Lately I have noticed that there has been a lot of controversy in social media feeds about whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, to influence or shape a horse’s behavior in any way. I don’t normally get involved in “political” type viewpoints on social media forums, but I felt called to write this blog as I wanted to share my experience in shaping the behavior of my horses using the Waterhole Rituals and convey how it has affected them.
I recently read that because horses are sentient begins that shaping their behavior is not good for them. My personal experience has been quite the opposite. When I rescued my horses they were domestic horses that had been totally neglected by their owner. I rescued 5 horses…4 of them were from one family; a Mom, 21 years old, and three of her offspring, the youngest being 3 months old and the oldest being 6 years old. They were very nervous and detached from humans and extremely depressed. After nursing them back to health for a year (they were malnourished, as well), I introduced them to The Carolyn Resnick Method of The Waterhole Rituals, and almost immediately saw amazing changes in each and every one of them. Their mood was elevated, they had a little spunk in their step and a sparkle in their eye. Before that time I had not influenced them in any way and I had hoped that through that allowance they would become less afraid and begin to connect with me. However, when doing “nothing”, nothing changed. I remember when Linda Salinas came to do a clinic at my ranch in Costa Rica she could not believe how detached they were. After she left (and after they had been part of the clinic), Apache, the horse that had the most fear, had jumped over the fence to get up to the arena to connect with me! That happened almost every day for quite some time until I changed the set-up at my place so that they could access the arena and be closer to me whenever they chose. They were clearly enthusiastic about their training and I now continue to practice the Waterhole Rituals with them on a daily basis.
Since playing with my horses at liberty, they now see me as a member of their herd. They run to me when they see me coming in the pasture whether I have a halter in my hand or not. They whinny to me when they see me.
Through the evolution of our bond which developed through the Waterhole Rituals, all of my horses will lie down and takes naps near me while I am sitting in a chair Sharing Territory with them. I have no doubt this trust was built from my influencing their behavior, as horses do not lie down if they don’t feel safe. Spending time with me practicing the Waterhole Rituals has, without question, made a huge difference in their lives and in mine as well. They want to follow my lead. They want things to do. They love dancing with me at Liberty. They know that I am protecting them and they understand that they also have freewill during our time together. I feel that it is the way in which we choose to influence the horse that matters. I also allowl the horse to influence me and I then respond to him. I listen to what he wants to share with me.
It has been my experience over the past few years that horses desire our company and, just like humans, they can become bored and social, interactive games can bring enrichment to their well being. My horses are a perfect example of this. They now line up at the fence and can’t wait for their turn to get into the arena for their lessons! My herd is as bonded to me as much as they are to each other, and their bond is very deep. As I continue working with the Waterhole Rituals, I am noticing that any herd-bound behavior is melting away to the point of being non-existent. You can see the evolution of the trust they have with me. Carolyn’s method is not about the training, nor is it about performance, it is about the relationship that we share together. It is about deepening the bond and sharing harmonious activities together. Working with my horses in her method gives them purpose and they feel good about themselves for their accomplishments!
I encourage everyone to spend time with their horses and learn to communicate with them in a language they understand. This can only enhance their lives! One thing I know for sure, my horses are better off having been shaped by me in the activities that we share together.
In harmony with horses,
For the last one and a half years, I have dedicated many hours toward training my horses at liberty using Carolyn Resnick’s method (The Waterhole Rituals). My passion for this training has given my horses and me great joy and we have been able to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Although I host a variety of clinicians and support my horses in learning new skills, I am very careful to select clinicians who respect my work. I will never jeopardize the trust that my horses have placed in me to keep them safe.
In March 2016, we hosted our first Yoga and Horsemanship Clinic/Retreat here in Arenal, Costa Rica. Two amazing clinicians (Tammy Pate and Janice Baxter) guided our guests on an incredible journey through the practice of yoga and the development of skills in breathing, balance and oneness with the self to promote a better relationship between horses and humans. Their teachings resonated with me because I feel that any actions we take to connect with ourselves help us in the development of a stronger connection with our equine partners.
A few weeks ago, we hosted our second Yoga and Horsemanship Clinic. On our final day of clinic Tammy selected the topic of starting colts. We chose to demonstrate with my 3 year old colt named Wille. He is a rescue horse with only my teachings of The Waterhole Rituals under his belt. Tammy and I delighted in how calm and relaxed Willie was under saddle for his first time. He showed no fear or resistance and was eager to learn. It was amazing to watch the beauty and ease in which Tammy “showed him the ropes”, so to say! Watching them together was like watching a graceful dance with clear leadership and the willingness to follow.
The Waterhole Rituals have given my horses a strong foundation to enhance their ability to learn new things without fear or hesitation. Tammy’s method of teaching groundwork provided a beautiful way to transition my horses to the next level. She is truly an inspiration and I am grateful for her gentle guidance, leadership and dedication toward putting the horse first.
I look forward to our next adventure with the “Vaqueras Locas”!
Before I began practicing The Waterhole Rituals with my horses, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the word “connection” or what it truly means. Yes, I am aware that there are many definitions of connection, but I am referring to connection which develops from an energetic force greater than ourselves; one that can't be forced and comes from a state of grace that brings two beings into contact allowing them to mesh as one. It is my belief that all beings in this Universe are connected and sometimes by chance we meet people who we know were put on our path for a special reason. I also believe that connection is something that we must strive for in our relationships. This is especially true in our relationships with our horses.
Although we all seek meaningful connections, we sometimes avoid intimacy as it can be scary to our ego self. When we feel vulnerable and threatened we may disconnect emotionally and retreat into ourselves as a defense mechanism. Awareness is the key to breaking through this ego based thinking and letting the love in our hearts flow into the world. When we are in a peaceful loving space within ourselves, connection with others feels natural and safe.
Horses are master teachers in guiding us to awareness and self discovery. It has been my experience with horses that true connection takes practice and is cultivated over time. There must be trust and respect for this essential bond to develop. If we try to establish a relationship with a horse based on our own ego needs, we will invariably find conflict. We all have the power within ourselves to heal our emotional trauma and pain through awareness. The most rewarding relationships are based on how we relate and connect to ourselves. Once we begin to know and love ourselves, our hearts will naturally open. Only in a place of peace, purely in the present moment, can we experience the magic of connection with our horses.
A few months ago, I had a private intensive clinic with Linda Salinas. As many of you know, Linda teaches Carolyn Resnick's method of liberty training with horses through the Waterhole Rituals. I have been studying under Linda and Carolyn for the past year and a half. My original intention was to perfect my skills in training horses at liberty, but my clinic with Linda changed my life forever and jump stared me on a transformation journey of self discovery. One of the most important things that I learned through the Waterhole Rituals is the importance of being in the moment. This can prove to be quite challenging. It is easy to get caught up in the day today "stuff" that leaves no time for ourselves.
Sharing territory is the first Waterhole Ritual. It is critically important in liberty training because it assists us in forming the bond that we need with our horses to have a true connection. The time we spend just "being" is not only valuable in connecting with horses, but is instrumental in connecting with ourselves as well.
Because we have been so focused on the thinking aspect of our minds, quieting our minds requires deliberate intent. By allowing ourselves to be present in each moment, we decrease our mental analysis, or in other words, our mind chatter. When we put too much emphasis on the past or the future, we miss out on the physical and emotional experience that is happening right now.
Present moment awareness is an experience in which the little voice inside of us simply tells us to STOP. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. We need to just BE. Yoga, meditation and prayer are wonderful tools to help us go within to find a place of solace; a place to nourish our souls and to heal our hearts.
The Native Americans used animal medicine to heal mind, body and spirit. They believed that the word "medicine" referred to anything that improved one's connection to all life. This included anything that brought personal power, strength or understanding. To the Native Americans, being one with nature was a way of life that simply involved living in perfect harmony with the Universe. They also used animal symbology to guide them in their spiritual development.
If we pay close attention to animals in nature, we notice that they relay messages of healing to us if we simply open our minds. As we silence our minds to observe nature, we gain knowledge of ourselves as well. This helps us to slow down and appreciate each moment and is extremely important to our well being. It allows us to re-connect with ourselves, to FEEL and to discover who we really are. In this space, we can awaken to our true selves and find the peace and joy we are all searching or.
Being in the present moment while observing my horses (and all creatures in their natural habitats) has assisted me in my journey within. This joyous process has opened up a wondrous new world and has helped me to gain a better understanding of myself as well. Many thanks to Linda and Carolyn!