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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.

Those Who Challenge the Norm

A few weeks back I went looking for video inspiration. I was hoping to find documentation of horse trainers working their horses without any tools of intimidation. No matter how we start, I imagine that is where all of us would like to end up? Horse and rider working together in harmony, no need for stick or rope or spurs. The closest I was able to find was Stacy Westfall and Pat Parelli doing beautiful things with their horses, but still wearing their spurs.

This week I want to write about two trainers who do have videos out, working horses with no tools. The videos are simple, however, I think the two of them get credit for being the only ones on video record to have done this. They are both men who are extreme and devoted to high ideals with horses. They bring to mind the quote:


All truth passes through three stages.

First, it is ridiculed.

Second, it is violently opposed.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.


Arthur Schopenhauer


I wonder if it is because of the characters who are willing to forge ahead, break new ground and do what is uncommon or unknown, that make everyone nod their heads in knowing agreement when they hear this saying.

Few people have such conviction in a new truth changing the world, that they are willing to throw themselves up against the norm and the expected. Their intensity can be something people do not know how to respond to, making the safest response ridicule and opposition.

I wrote about Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling back in February.

I love watching him work and have a great deal of respect for him. I also have to admit I am intimidated by his idealism. I am not sure anyone can be as perfect as he claims everyone needs to be in relationships with horses.

I see extremists in the horse world point out all the cruel injustices done to horses, point out all the things that should not be done to a horse, but I don’t think new truth can win over old in a battle of right and wrong. Only, when there become more examples of positivity and better ways to proceed will truth become self evident.

Chuck Mintzlaff of Friendship Training is another such horseman challenging the horse training norm.

I devoted myself completely to working through his system of training from April to August of 2007, then moved to Norway for six months. When I returned home, I began again and worked with this process from April to July of 2008.

I have enormous respect for Chuck Mintzlaff and you might even need to give him credit for putting this idea into my head years ago. I chose to discontinue working with him when I decided I wanted to take a broader view of training horses.

I would like to encourage, inspire and appreciate all who love horses and work with them, whether they train with a harsh clarity or a gentle persuasion, with a round pen or a dressage arena, with a leverage bit or a rope halter, or nothing at all. What we have in common in our love of horses is far more powerful than what training tools or methods we may choose.

Those on the leading edge of horse training change such as Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling and Chuck Mintzlaff are inspiring and I am grateful they are doing what they do. I also have no desire to attack horse training with a forceful morality of right and wrong. I may struggle with it in my own head, however, what I would like to show the world is all the clarity that leads to an idea being self evident.

What if I, a girl from the Northwest of the United States, not particularly different from any other girl in love with horses, can, over the course of a year, develop a relationship with a horse using positive reinforcement and only the corrections I can create with my own body- no sticks or ropes or pens, working through trial and error with no particular emphasis on a moral right or wrong. Just simplicity put to music, on film, with an aim to inspire. I don’t need to change the world, but if I do, I would like to escort truth gently into the self-evident stage, leaving the trail-blazing to characters like Chuck Mintzlaff and Klaus Hempfling, with all their fire and moral intensity.

I am here for quiet, beautiful simplicity.

We will see what happens…

Elsa Sinclair


  1. What a marvellous post Elsa…
    Klaus Hempfling’s video is a great one, I saw it a few times before. For me the most beautiful part of it is the pause the horse is granted at 0:50, which in my experience is perhaps the most important thing in training a horse (or other animal, or human). The pause is however neglected by many horse trainers, but the pause is what makes the penny drop!
    And thank you so much for showing the video of Chuck Mintzlaff, for I had never heard of him before. A truely amazing horseman! Never having heard of him makes it even more clear to me that there must be perhaps thousands great horsemen and -women all over the world I’ve never heard of, who are working with their horses this way every day, in the best interest of the horse.

  2. You are on, perhaps ahead of the right track, even among those you think of as great. Good luck. M

  3. Elsa, I just have to say that I love the way you are seeing your way thru this. You have my total support and you express my own feelings about these trainers to a tee. Life is too wonderful to become rigid in this way with horses (or anything for that matter) The horses themselves would be laughing at some of the seriousness these trainers put on “their” ways. It’s got to be a dance between two beautiful beings relating to each other in each moment , new.

  4. And thank you for turning me on to Chuck Mintzlaff, I hadn’t heard of him before I read this post. I love his way.

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