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The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range

One trainer

No tools

Just body language

The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

Wow….. I think that is perhaps the best word for this past week. To start the new year off I presented this project, with the guidelines drawn in broad strokes. I set the next year for contemplation and development of plan. Letting my horses, my students, my friends and family help me pave the way for a process I believed had never been attempted. I began the blog and I was blown away by how many people were interested. Thank you all for your inspiring words of support.

I have begun journaling the inspirations, questions, and challenges each day brings. On Fridays I will compile some of the weeks musings into something hopefully fun and interesting to read. And I will of course keep you abreast of how the plans progress on the nuts and bolts of the project.  Blog by blog, those broad strokes of idea will get filled in with more detail. A year of preparation seems like a very long time in some ways. For me though, all the sudden I am down to only 51 more weeks and I am not sure that is long enough?

There is a good reason we use whips and bridles, saddles, and ropes to develop our relationships with horses. They are big, and very powerful animals. That which draws us to them, also causes us to carefully stay in control. Even those of us who choose to be less controlling of our horses are sensible enough to choose horses whom someone has already “halter broken” and then established habits of obedience to the handler. As human beings we walk horses through a process of submission, and we use our tools to reinforce those habits. Slowly, for some of us, over time, we start eliminating tools, trusting in the horses habit of partnership. Losing first the saddle, then switching the bridle for a halter, then perhaps the halter for a rope or a stick…. This process is breathtaking. The thrill we first felt on riding a horse, being allowed to share that power and speed, and trusting the horse to keep us safe. Every time a piece of control is dropped away, it has to be replaced with trust. When that trust in honored, there is nothing like it.

The challenge I have set myself is driven by curiosity. It is something I want to explore because I think it is fascinating. How much do we actually need the control that makes us feel safe? How much trust would the horse honor if given the chance? How much partnership would the horse offer of his own volition?

I thought this challenge had never been taken on before. The middle of this week I was bought up short by the discovery that someone else has already blazed the path before me. Carolyn Resnick called me up to offer her support, and encouragement. I discovered she has already been there and has written a book about it. At first, I was disappointed to find I wasn’t breaking new ground after all. Then I was awed and flattered that a trainer whose videos had inspired me as a child, had called me up, whole heartedly excited about my project.

So if I am not the first to attempt this, then I now have a compelling sense I am called upon to develop further in some direction what Carolyn started. Her book on the project and videos on her other work arrived in the mail today and I am excited to have a little more insight into the process ahead of me.

Here is the call for help. I am looking for an independent film maker interested in helping me document this process next year, and of course the funding necessary for such an undertaking. Can you help me spread the word? While the path may have been blazed before me, it has never been caught on film. I do believe this journey will be fascinating to many more than just myself.

I am blessed to live in the San Juan Islands. Lush, green and beautiful, I think it would be an incredible back drop for an intriguing question to be played out.

As always, I am curious. Lend me your musings, questions and ideas. Together we will lay a path for new things to be discovered.

Elsa Sinclair

One Comment

  1. Dear Elsa, I am also awed at what you are doing. I can help advise on your choice(s) of video documentarians—consider another horse-woman videographer for the similar point of view.
    WOW BACK AT YOU! Love, Michael

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