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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.


Sharing the Journey


When I was a child horses allowed me to be bigger, stronger, and faster than I was on my own two feet. They swept me into a world where anything was possible. They shared their journey through time and space with me and lent me a sense of power in life.


To this day, horses still give me all of that and so much more. In the beginning horses were a physical thrill and that physical thrill fed me mentally and emotionally. As I grew, training horses became a mental thrill, learning about cause and effect, building a partnership between horse and rider systematically. Now in this project, challenging me to a year of training without tools, I find my emotions are being fed directly in a way I have never before experienced.

I sit here watching the print course along the page as I struggle to illustrate with words this visceral and personal experience. I am not sure how it is this project seems to use my mind and my body to shape the course of events while tapping more directly into the emotions at the core of my existence. I can tell you the physical steps I take, I can tell you the mental processes that accompany the physical steps, yet I don’t know how to describe the emotional component that comes from the connection between horse and human.


I do know, however intangible it is to explain, people feel it powerfully when they get the chance. Perhaps not exactly what I feel, but something profound none the less. Each time I introduce someone new to the Mustangs, I am apprehensive that what I do is too subtle and slow to be of interest to anyone other than myself.


Nothing ventured nothing gained, so I take a deep breath and put it out there, walking each person who comes to visit through the physical steps of drive and draw, approach and retreat, walking them through the mental understanding of building trust and connection with a horse. Then I stand back and marvel as the emotional connection between horse and human sparks and all of a sudden this isn’t just about me and my journey with Myrnah. This is a journey shared.


I don’t know how to explain the feeling of intensity, being an integral part of a horse’s breakthrough from fear to confidence. I don’t know how to explain how time evaporates and before we know it, hours have gone by in the blink of an eye. I don’t know why it is so emotionally touching to feel that bond, that trust and that connection with an animal so recently wild and so new to the world of people.


I marvel that I can share this experience with other people. Myrnah and Cleo are willing to reach out to the friends I bring to visit with them, willing to meet, converse, and show each person attention and devotion, offering communication and connection.


It’s so simple and so powerful.


I know I could spend more time with the Mustangs drilling cues and specific responses, riding patterns and creating machine-like perfection of movement. I also know that doesn’t affect anyone in the deep way this more inexplicable feeling of connection does.


I sat on Myrnah again on Monday- it was lovely and yet somehow also felt beside the point. It felt like Myrnah was unconcerned but also unengaged as though there may be a few more things we need to do before she is ready to completely bond and connect with me riding. This isn’t about how many tasks we can do together; it is more about how engaged and interested I can encourage Myrnah to be about doing those tasks with me. It’s about how the two of us feel as we do whatever we are going to do together.


Myrnah and I are sharing this journey with each other, and also with the world. To anyone who might be interested in tasting this inexplicable feeling of connection, I want to put it out there that it is possible, and achievable, and simpler than you might expect. You just need to learn to read the signs along the way.




Elsa Sinclair


  1. You, on Mrynah’s back is encouraging, and your movement is begun.
    You prove your dreams and stated purpose —get a willing partner from a wild, scared trapped beast in mere weeks…and that is thoughts and emotion meeting reality.
    Now we can take encouragement for our own almost daunting efforts.
    Sounds cliche-ish, but you have done it—what you set out to do at the beginning of this journal. 😉 😉 😉 (3 cheers!) Michael

    • Thanks Michael, you are the best, always encouraging me on.

  2. I do so understand your struggle in trying to describe your deepest experiences in this process! I also see myself staring at my computer screen regularly, when I try to share on my weblog what I just experienced with one of my horses. I guess ‘the real thing’, the thing we’re all – consciously or subconsciously – looking for in our interactions with horses can’t be put into words. These experiences and feelings go beyond words; words seems to ‘earthy’ (is that English?) to describe them.
    Just for comfort ;-): I found your attempt to ‘describe your inability to describe’ also wonderful. Somehow you did bring across some of that magical feeling after all. At least to me ;-)!
    (P.S.: I’m busy translating your blog into Dutch; it’s a lot of work but I enjoy doing it. It will take a while before it’s ‘on air’ though ;-).)

    • Awesome Marja, I am so pleased you seem to resonate and understand where I am coming from and have felt some of what I have felt between working with your horses and writing about it. I love that you are translating my blog to be accessible to more people.

      – Earthy is English… I got the sense of what you were trying say… but I am not sure what word would really best go there…..

  3. Those of us with a need to express ourselves in writing spend our lives looking for the words that precisely describe what we think and feel. With horses I have been working at it for years. I now understand that what is happening to me when I am with my horses is pre-verbal. It engages a part of my brain that is much older than language. I still try to describe it, but now when I am with them, I consciously try to shut off the stream of verbal impulses and focus on non-verbal physical and mental energy in our interactions. It is remarkably difficult to do this sometimes but I believe it helps me to understand my horse’s own way of being.

    • I agree Bonnie! It’s also a fun challenge to sit down afterward and try to put those pre-verbal experiences down in print. 🙂

  4. Slow and Subtle. Most of our lives lack any process that is deliberately undertaken in a slow and subtle way. It is that contrast from normal life together with the wonderful experience of inter-species communication that is so apparent when you are consciously being slow and subtle that so thrills your visitors. You have caught lightning in a bottle. Very Slow and Subtle lightning…….

    • I love the slow and subtle lightning complement! Thank you Patrick, it goes perfectly with the contrasts of draw and drive and rest in movement. I love the balancing contrasts of life.

  5. Beautiful blog Elsa, I enjoy them all. The pictures are beautiful too, they show the feeling, the connection, the emotion between you very clearly.

    • Thank you Toby. I love being able to share this. Too much fun to be kept to myself 😉

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  1. […] yet I think it is contradictions like this that make us feel alive. Last week I talked about draw and drive, using those concepts to build a connection between partners. I believe it is the combination of […]

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