Skip navigation

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.

Why Natural Horsemanship?

When I began my journey into Natural Horsemanship under the guidance of Sus Kellogg, one of the first things I asked was, “How soon will I be back to my jumping, dressage and three day eventing?” The only answer she would give me was, “In three months, you will be really happy with your progress” It wasn’t the answer I was looking for; it was, however, all she would tell me. She was correct. After three months devoted to Natural Horsemanship with my horse Zohari, there was no turning back for me. The high I got from this way of being with horses was beyond anything I had ever known how to access intentionally. No matter the style of riding or training, there are highs and lows to everything. With the conventional training I grew up with, I usually felt at the mercy of luck. Some rides were magical, some were miserable. The magical rides kept me coming back for more, fighting through the rough days, hoping, as my skill increased, my proportion of perfect rides would start to outnumber everything else.

We all have our own reasons for spending time with horses. I often question my reasons at this time of year, as I slog through the muck, groom endless sand out of my horses woolly coats, bow my head to the wind, and laugh into the drenching rain as I stubbornly ride through the elements. Why do I do this? Is there really enough magic in this relationship to draw me out there with the horses again and again?

Yes, the answer is unequivocally yes. There is nothing on earth that makes me grin like horses do.

Horses make me feel stronger and faster than I could ever be on my own. That has always been the draw for me. As a child they let me run faster than my own feet would carry me, and they let me jump higher than my own drive could propel me. The only trick was convincing them to lend me that strength and speed, to give themselves over to our partnership. Sometimes they did and it was magical; sometimes they didn’t and it was….. anything but magical.

My natural inclination toward speed and power led me to love jumping, and later endurance riding. The determination to find more consistent partnership skills with my horses led to intense study of Dressage, and later Tellington Jones Equine Awareness Method and Centered Riding. Of all the disciplines I have studied… why Natural Horsemanship now?

It is only through Natural Horsemanship I finally feel I have a language to explain and understand the best parts of all the horse disciplines I have studied. Through Natural Horsemanship I now can see the steps and progressions people and horses travel through. It makes sense in a way that puts those magical rides accessibly in my experience day in and day out. It isn’t luck anymore; I know exactly how to find that Flow and drop directly into the Zone with my horses. Of course there are days when I don’t, but even when it is difficult, it doesn’t feel like random luck anymore. Now I usually can see the cause of a rough ride, step back and learn from it. That is what Natural Horsemanship has given me.

There was a day when all I wanted to do was run and jump. Now I find myself entranced with the question, what would cause a horse to want to run and jump with me? What would cause a horse to WANT to do anything with me?

What are the principles behind partnership? Can I see the process, and the evolution in every step, in every moment, in every breath…..

That is horses for me now. That is what Natural Horsemanship has given me. I still love to run and jump with my horses it just has deepened beyond that to include developing the will, and the desire, above and beyond the simple execution of action.

I do not consider other methods of training horses “less than” Natural Horsemanship. Any method that brings people and horses together with any degree of joy is beautiful in it’s own right. Natural Horsemanship has just given me an understanding of the underlying basis of relationship between horse and human in a way I am forever grateful for.

Natural Horsemanship has given me the tools to attempt this project. My hope is that I now understand the principles well enough to move beyond the status quo, to take the building of relationship between horse and human beyond training pens, ropes and sticks. To break it down to the bodies in play, and see what we can do together….

Here is to the beauty of simplicity, the power of horses, and the joy they bring us every day, rain or shine….

Elsa Sinclair


  1. “What would cause a horse to WANT to do anything with me?”
    This is indeed the question everything revolves around.
    The mare I wrote about in my comment on your previous topic, is my greatest teacher in this aspect, because she doesn’t want to do ANYTHING for me, if I lose sight of my feel and my connection to her, which still happens much more often than I would like… She then keeps me on the straight path.

    • Michael Calhoun
    • Posted February 19, 2011 at 10:54 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    When my hunting, hiking and fishing partner, my Dad died a month after my twelfth birthday, I moped until Karen got me outside again and up on a chestnut gelding to ride with a rope halter, nothing else (She sneaked the horse out). For the next year, school day afternoons and most of the Saturdays we rode until dark, not knowing we were doing Natural Horse-Manship. Then, my Mom remarried, we moved to the Colorado Rockies, and I spent the next 32 years watching and picking up after UN-Natural Horsemanship. Then I crumped. And now back to horses…So, thanks for getting me back into Natural-ship, Elsa.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Ratios « Meditations on Equestrian Art on 19 Aug 2012 at 9:07 am

    […] is how I look at it: How much pressure does it take to accomplish something? In Natural Horsemanship we talk about phases of pressure, generally working in increments of four. Phase one is a […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: