According to international horse trainer Noora Ehnqvist, you must be the change you want to see in the world.

The Finland-born professional visited Kapiti this month to host one of her well-recognised three day clinics, to help local horse owners create deeper connections with their animal counterparts.

Having conducted thousands of clinics all across the world since establishing herself as an individual trainer in 2009, this month's visit was her third on New Zealand shores.

"I believe that all living creatures want to be seen as they truly are and to be positively helped to grow towards their personal potential," said Noora, who worked with eight horse owners in Otaki.


Her clinics, which are based on a holistic approach to horse care through elements including communication, body awareness and language, stem from over 19 years' research, study and hands-on clinical experience.

"Every clinic is different and depends on the group, the awareness and the horses - but the essence is learning to understand horses and have a better relationship."

According to Noora, her goal is to challenge common human perceptions about a horse's role in society, and the relationship between human and horse.

"In the horse world, there's a lot of dominance and harshness, which people justify because horses are big.

"Often you see horses making people's wishes possible but the horses themselves are shut down, quiet or sad.

"They aren't allowed to feel."

Noora, who trained as an assistant for a "very soulful" international horse teacher in Denmark, said behavioral issues often reflect horses' desires to be heard, but their inability to speak.

"Horses don't have a voice - they can't growl or squeak from pain, the only thing they can do is behave a bit bad to try and tell us."

Her dedication to helping others understand and care for horses came from her first and only horse Porne, 29, who now lives in France with Noora's good friend while she travels the world.

"I had my first riding lesson on a horse at 13 and there was no turning back.

"It made me so deeply happy having this connectedness with such a magnificent being."

Five years later, she met Porne in stables where she worked.

"It was the only horse I thought 'why would somebody buy a horse like that', because he never looked happy.

"He was a little bit of trouble to ride, but he was kind."

Two years later, Noora took him on.

"He so clearly showed that life doesn't offer him what it offers humans, and I thought that so many other horses feel the same, but don't show it so clearly.

"He made me think, how can I make him happy?"

When Noora asked the question in the horse industry, queries about his physical state were raised.

"They asked whether he was rearing up, bucking or biting and I said no, none of that, so they were looking at me like there was no problem.

"It didn't seem to interest anyone."

With a deep gut feeling to find the answer herself, Noora went on an educational journey that eventually landed her as one of the world's most sought after sensitive horse trainers.

A significant part of her teachings, she said, is the correlation between human and horse emotions, which falls back on body awareness.

"In our modern times we are very busy in our head and constantly going left and right, and that brings us away from really feeling the moment.

"Horses though, are very much feeling the moment.

"Body awareness is calming down and landing in the moment, while also learning to activate the body without tensing it.

"It's about being able to enter the kind of mindset where you can communicate with the horse because horses pick up on energetical language."

Her biggest motivation in what she does, Noora said, is seeing the awareness grow - one horse at a time, all around the world.

"It's an absolute blessing to be doing something that I believe of in my soul."

Manakau horse owner Vicki Timpson took part in Noora's Otaki clinic, and shared her thoughts about the three-day course:

"For me, the workshop was about taking time out to be in nature and connect to my horse.

"My horse is an ex-racehorse and has been in a world of not being connected to a person. He was just a number.

"The clinic was about showing him trust and that it's OK to be a bit unsure.

"I'd never experienced doing liberty work, where you take off the halter and let them be with you. You take a step and walk and they walk beside you as 'they choose' to.

"That was a beautiful moment for me.

"One of the highlights of the three days was body awareness and realising how much we live in our mind, and the importance of taking time to stop and listen.

"It showed us the deeper lessons in life."