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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.

 

Ransom “aka High Tech Exec”

Ransom was dapple grey, leggy and lean. Ransom was my first Thoroughbred. As with most of the horses in my life, I didn’t choose him with any forethought; circumstances simply arranged themselves in such a way as to bring the two of us together for a time. To this day I cannot believe my good fortune to have had him as a partner and teacher.

Ransom started his life as a racehorse. As a racehorse he was well bred, well cared for, and well loved. When a bowed tendon made it clear he was ready to be retired from the world of racing, my dear friend Rikke stepped in to bring him through his life change.

I will admit, I was jealous. Thoroughbreds are such sleek powerhouses of grace and speed. All through my childhood filled with adorable chubby ponies, I would gaze longingly after the riders sitting high atop their long-legged, elegant, thin-skinned, hot-tempered horses. “Fritz and Beautiful Horses” was a story I always felt close to growing up.

Here I was twenty- two years old, graduated beyond my fuzzy ponies and now riding my beautiful Warmblood cross, Zohari, elegant and long-legged too in his own way. The lure of the Thoroughbred still sung through me though, a desire not to be quelled. So when my friend Rikke found herself needing to move back to her home country of Denmark, and Ransom needed a new home, I was beyond thrilled to be that home for him.

I think the greatest thing Ransom showed me was a style of herd leadership I had never observed before. He was a leader in our herd, and gained that leadership in a way that is still to this day a huge inspiration to me.

Ransom was not a kicker or a biter. He did not seem to need disciplinary action as any part of his dominance. His dominant role in the herd was in part thanks to his intensely vibrant personality: watching him arch his neck and float across the ground to meet someone new was awe inspiring. It was also due in part to his phenomenal persistence in winning over his herd mates.

We had a black Arabian mare named Shameeka who was not impressed with Ransom’s winning personality. When Ransom would waltz over to see her, she would pin her ears and walk away, not in the least impressed with his overtures of friendship. Ransom was not daunted, he just followed her, ears pricked, attention focused. She would sometimes squeal and kick at him, and he would just move slightly out of range and then follow again. Eventually she would become curious: what was he still doing there tagging along behind her, ever present regardless of her antics. As Shameeka would turn to look at him he would look away nonchalantly and wander off. She would lose interest, go back to grazing and he would snap back to attention, following her ceaselessly until her curiosity was piqued again. It took him three days of persistence wherein, little by little, Shameeka became more and more interested. By the end of those three days she was completely devoted and followed him everywhere.

It blew my mind to see one horse win over another with so little violence. It also made me realize, while we talk about natural horsemanship and learning to understand and communicate the way horses do, there is a broad spectrum of skill in communication via horse language, just as there is via human language. Ransom was a master of positive communication.

Outside of his herd skills, he also had a self-awareness in movement that was sensational. He could canter like a rocking horse, or stretch out and gallop with speed that took my breath away. Everything he did, you felt as though he had thought about it and decided it was indeed what he wanted to do. When I would shake the rope at him to back up, he learned that he could back up a few steps then take the rope in his mouth and shake it back at me. Turn about is fair play after all. I would laugh so hard and back away just as he asked. Working with Ransom was the best laughter therapy. For all the things I thought to teach him, he was right there with me to show me things I had never thought of along the way.

Polocrosse was Ransom’s game. He was unbelievable. At our barn we play polocrosse with only a string around the base of the neck to guide them. That way you really get a sense of how much your horse wants to play the game. Ransom thought galloping and turning and jostling for the ball among six horses was great fun. However he had little patience for my lack of ball skills. We would canter up past a ball on the ground and I would miss the pick up. Ransom didn’t have to be told a thing; he would wheel around and place me right on top of the ball again. More often than not, I would miss again and Ransom would spin about to give me another chance. Chances were not unlimited though. At some point, if I missed the ball to a degree he thought unseemly, he would put on the brakes, screech to a halt, and turn to look me in the eye as if to say: If you don’t pick up the dang ball, we can’t gallop to the other side of the field, so pick it up already!

Ransom was a horse that made me laugh, everyday. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. In 2006 I moved to Norway for family reasons and Ransom became partners with my good friend Jenny. The two of them lived, laughed and rode together for a year, and then in a fluke accident one snowy day in the pasture, Ransom broke his leg and had to be put to sleep. He is missed by many, though I would like to think his legacy lives on in all he taught us. He was an inspiration to me in so many ways and I hope I can bring his sense of joy to the art of leadership as I befriend horses throughout the rest of my life.

Thank you Ransom. You gave me an immeasurable gift.

Elsa Sinclair

www.equineclarity.com

4 Comments

  1. Amazing beautiful ! Thank you for sharing this great “immeasurable gift”!
    Miss you lots and hope to visit you one day and feel the vibrations around your life 🙂

    • I miss you SO much too! Glad you liked the story. One of these days we will meet up again, in one country or another. You are welcome here any time for sure 🙂

  2. Elsa,

    But Ransom IS still with us. Teaching vicariously through YOU!
    What a great story about such a very special horse!
    Thanks for introducing him to us.
    Maggie

  3. WOW! Intensely told, well written…and gives me more insight of THAT time. Thanks for Ranson. 😉 Michael


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