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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.



I once heard a very amusing horseman share this, and it has stuck with me ever since.

You only need three things to train horses. The first, is patience. If you run out of the first thing, the second thing is… more patience. Then if you find you have run out of the first two most important things for training horses… the third thing you need… is more patience.

It often occurs to me, as I am walking through any relationship, how unbelievably patient we all need to be with each other. Part of the fun of a relationship is being unreasonable in our expectations. When someone asks me to do something I don’t think I can do,  I often find that, for them, I will try anyway. When I come out the other side of that challenge, I find myself bigger and better than I thought I could be. I think horses are the same. We ask things of them all the time that they are not sure they can do. Yet every time they do something new successfully, their self-confidence changes, hopefully for the better. What makes that change in confidence positive or negative? I believe the difference comes down to patience in the training process.

Wikipedia states:

“Patience is the level of endurance one’s character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.”

Parelli talks of the three stages of learning: Mental, Emotional, Physical. First we must mentally understand the task, then we must become emotionally comfortable with it, then we can physically develop what we learned.

Mentally: We ask a horse to try something new with pressure, release and reward. If we get the timing right, they mentally understand the task.

Emotionally: To build skill we need to have the fortitude to practice. The patient repetition, is the art of practice. Emotional stamina, or patience, is essential in building a skill.

Physically: Once a skill is comfortable, only then can we build or improve on it.

Without patience to develop skill, we often end up seeking more excitement than we are ready for, attempting to add challenge after challenge on top of new, barely learned, skills. This leads to the stress of too much challenge and not enough skill.

All this came to mind as a necessary balance after the last blog I wrote. I wrote about limited available time, and speeding up the process of relationship building and bonding between horse and rider.… In an ideal situation, I think I wouldn’t try to speed this up; I would just take the time it takes. I would be fully patient with the process, building relationship simply out of attention and attraction.

However, I have set this up as a year long challenge for myself, so there is the desire to move training along with some efficiency. As well as perhaps a slight addiction to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and making things just a little more challenging than my skill level, giving me the excitement of having to grow faster.

Having admitted my tendency to impatience, I would like to make every effort to balance my push for progress with staying grounded in a commitment to meditative, patient practice.

Parelli suggests the guidelines of 80% consistency, 20% variety. I like that idea. For every 20% of the time I play with speeding up the process, I need a balancing 80% spending time simply getting comfortable with what we already know.

This project I believe will let me know loud and clear when I need more patience. This horse will need to be truly comfortable with the skills we develop together. If this horse gets uncomfortable or impatient, there is not much stopping him from walking away. Pure and simple, I will need to hone my patience in order to develop my horse’s patience.

If we can have the patience to build skill one solid step at a time, then everyday we will find ourselves living within a larger playground of skills.

Sounds like fun to me 😉

Elsa Sinclair


  1. Well said, Elsa…I look forward to sharing this with my equine therapy kids – we talk about patience, taking a deep breath, visualizing, and again…patience….looking to the horse to see how well we are practicing our relationship skills – then transfering those skills to the human world.
    Thanks for taking the time to write and share your insightful perspectives. Julie from Iowa

    • Julie, I love that you take the time to talk to the kids about how horses teach us relationship skills. It is SO valuable… keep doing what you are doing, the world needs more of that awareness.

  2. How well you have taught me, shown me and gotten me to BE patient! So, this comes naturally to you to share…eventually with the new herd member, scared, catching up to the others, while you patiently share. Michael 😉

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