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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.



Bringing life into focus 


This weekend a good friend of mine asked me why I am doing this. One trainer, One mustang, One year, No tools. What compels me onward through the project, the filming, the photography, and the documentation?


Like anything, the answers to that question of are multilayered and multifaceted.


The simple answer is: I want this way of working with horses to be accessible to anyone. I want people to know it is possible to build a relationship with a horse without any tools of force. I want people to see halters and ropes and sticks and bridles as a conscious choice instead of a necessity. I want to help demystify the building of relationship between horse and rider.


In my life I have been unable to find any clear illustration of how to go about training with no tools. Given the frustration of my search I decided it was high time someone created a clearer path for others to follow. I am incredibly grateful to all my teachers who have given me pieces to the puzzle. I feel I may have enough experience with horses at this point and enough interest in learning that I can piece together a course of development. Myrnah is here to let me know how on or off track my ideas are and help me show the world what it looks like to follow this particular path of building relationship between horse and human.


Cleo is helpful as well, though she is peripheral to the central project. Cleo illustrates the choice involved here. All paths have their pros and cons, and we are all responsible for choosing the path right for us. Cleo’s life is going to involve trailers and traveling, halters and stalls, and new spaces all the time when she leaves me. I believe for her, getting comfortable with the tools of control that will keep her safe in human-created situations is vital sooner than later.


Myrnah and I have the luxury of time to explore a path unknown with the freedom to take as long as we want to get to riding and traveling and venturing out from our safe home base. Cleo has a different path to follow, neither better or worse, simply different.


This project is about showing people there are choices and there is more possible with horses than what is commonly accepted.


From a personal standpoint this project is all about the connection to something bigger than myself.


Being connected brings life into focus, and makes me feel alive. This week I felt the connection with Myrnah when she greeted me with a nicker two days in a row. It was after I had been away for three days of work. My mother took care of the mares while I was away- I know they didn’t lack for food or water or grazing time. So to hear that vocal sound of appreciation directed at me, recognizing that I was home, perhaps that I had been missed, felt like heaven.


The connection that I feel with everyone who reads my blog is awesome. I do this for myself, but it is the sharing of it that brings focus and clarity. Thank you so much to all of you who read and comment and find value in being part of my journey.


The connection I feel with all those willing to help me with video and photography, inspiration, ideas, and direction. Thank you. I would be doing the project even if I was doing it alone, but this is so much better. Doing the project with all of you helps me to see things clearly and bring the path into focus.


The biggest challenge of the week was being away. It was wonderful to reconnect with all my favorite people and horses in Fall City and get back to work I love, and the nickers I received from Myrnah when I got home were music to my soul. Yet I will be honest that I missed those hours I could have been with Myrnah and Cleo. Logically I believe they probably will progress faster through training with some time off away from me every once in a while. How can they miss me if I never go away? Yet, there is so much I want to get done with those two, it is hard to take time away from them to do anything else.


This week I hope to take out the rasp and start trimming hooves. Interestingly the shot I had to give Myrnah and the trimming of hooves seem more challenging to me than the more obviously big steps like riding, or trailering, or performing. So wish me luck this week.

Myrnah is getting very patient with her hooves held in every different position for longer and longer periods of time. Cleo is still in the place of learning to trust picking them up briefly for me. We started working with a syringe of apple sauce to prep for worming and the possibility I may need to sedate Cleo for her first hoof trim. Cleo has a fairly extreme quarter crack that is trying to grow out, so I need to keep it trimmed to minimize damage to the coronet band during the growing out process. She is only three-years-old, she does not need to have a permanent quarter crack for the rest of her life. If I need to sedate her to do what it takes to give her the best chance at normal hooves, that is what I will do.


Lucky for me Cleo seems at least hesitantly interested in that taste of apple sauce. Myrnah still thinks I am trying to poison her, so I will proceed more slowly with her- no hurry.


No hurry at all, just bliss in the moment every day with these two.

Thanks for coming along with us on this journey.


Elsa Sinclair 


  1. Elsa, I love LOVE hearing your stories, and look forward to reading each new one. What an enormously challenging and rewarding experience this must be…

    • Thanks Maggie, I am so in love with this project. The horses are purely rewarding so far- the challenging part is the recording and documenting. I am glad you are enjoying reading updates, it helps to know I am documenting for a larger group than just myself. 😉

    • Michael Calhoun
    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm
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    Your quest encourages us to know that horses and people who connect with them (and each other) are making an ancient idea live again…Balanced communication…But please pace yourself. M

  2. Elsa, you wrote: “I believe they probably will progress faster through training with some time off away from me every once in a while. How can they miss me if I never go away? Yet, there is so much I want to get done with those two, it is hard to take time away from them to do anything else.”
    I can imagine that! But still I think it is good to be away from them once in a while, to not get over-focused on them. This has to be a balance, like everything else. And I’m talking to myself here as well, because I easily get over-focused and often have a hard time to stop what I am doing, not just with horses, but also in general.

    • Thanks Marja, it really is good to get some support on that idea. As you said, it is all too easy to get over-focused.

  3. Fantastic goal! Great resources if you need any: Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals (developed from her experiences with a mustang herd) and her students Robin Gates, Stina Herberg, and Farah DeJohnette…all have good videos on YouTube…all involved in the same kind of work.

    • Thank you. Carolyn Resnick actually called me on the phone when I first put my blog up. She was wonderfully supportive and we had a great time talking about all sorts of things. I have seen Robin and Stina’s videos, Farah is new to me though, I will for sure look her up. The more of this we get out there, the more accessible it will become for the world to access. It’s exciting 😉

  4. Thank You, Elsa – for the kindness……I shudder when I think what the horses have gone through……they call it “breaking” for a reason. You and Suz are a paradigm – I hope the world is watching.

    • Thank you. Please pass the blog on or post it where ever you think people might be interested. I do want to share whatever happens here. I hope this story will be inspiration for thought.

    • Ritambhara Tyson
    • Posted September 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm
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    I think it’s really cool you have these two mares to play with, differently, to compare the two ways and really feel the difference. It’s such a wonderful story to follow. Thanks for giving this to all of us. The photos are exquisite. THis could be a coffee
    table book when you are thru with it!

    • Hmmmm, coffee table book, I hadn’t thought of that, but I like the idea… 😉

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