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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.


“The Great Affair is to Move”

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move”

This week for Myrnah and me has been about just that. The love affair between us is what makes it possible for us to work and grow and learn together without any bonds of force. The ever analytical part of me wants to know how and why that works. Everyone else I know needs a halter and a rope and a round pen to build that bond between horse and rider… why is it that Myrnah and I get to skip those forceful steps and jump right into the voluntary love affair?

I believe the answer lies in movement and how we choose to use it. Our movement through space is the greatest love affair there is. If you have ever watched a talented dancer entrance a crowd with the twitch of a finger, or a brilliant comedian cause the audience to burst into uproarious laughter with the well-timed raise of an eyebrow… you know what I mean.

Everything means something, nothing means nothing… learning to place value in every movement, and reverence in traveling through space is an art and the best part about art is you can’t do it wrong. The trick is to enjoy it completely as you figure out the cause and affect your movement creates and learn from the ripples of change around you.

Because I have no tools to hold Myrnah close to me, my job from day one was to make movements that would cause curiosity, interest, joy, peace, and connection between us. I courted her with movement and strove to build a love between us.

Movement is what bonds Myrnah and I together. The more we move together, the stronger our connection. And so the quote seems quite fitting. “The great affair is to move”

I read a quote from a Natural Horsemanship trainer today that made me sad for a moment. “Remember the rules of Horsemanship: Whoever moves first, loses.” Perhaps it is true, but I wish to challenge the customary understanding of this statement. Is this relationship with my horse one where I want her to lose? I don’t know about you, but my answer is a definite no. I want my horse to feel like she has won every moment of every day with me. I want my horse to feel like she is in the best love affair ever and has won the lottery to be my partner. To achieve this I will, in the beginning, voluntarily assume the so-called losing position. I will move through space using advance and retreat and timing a balance of action and inaction to woo my horse into becoming my partner. Once those beginning phases of the relationship are formed then the real fun begins. Moving together is when the whole of our partnership starts becoming so much more than the sum of it’s parts. There is an energy and a lightness of being that can’t be bought or sold, it can only be earned through the devotion of movement.

During the snow this last week, Myrnah and I climbed a hill together with my daughter who took pictures for all to see. The next day we walked out through the woods in a different direction for almost two hours with my brother who videoed the journey for us. I question… would I be able to walk through the woods for two hours with any of my other horses? I have good liberty skills with many of them, but two hours out in the woods is a long time to stay connected and focused. No carrots, or sticks, or ropes. I don’t actually know the answer to that question, yet with Myrnah there was very little doubt.  

I attribute that confidence and that bond between Myrnah and me to our practice of movement together. The hours we have spent traveling in silence side by side, matched step for step, is the glue that binds us together. It isn’t my ability to make her turn, or stop, or go, it isn’t the things I have taught her, or the things she has taught me, it is simply the in between times. It is the times when we move through space with no change or directing necessary. Our ability to communicate left, right, stop or go is vital to our comfort with each other, however it’s our ability to simply move, in quiet harmony without communication, that connects us together like nothing else can.

Placing value in movement together is what allows this experimental training process to succeed.

So what of the riding part of the equation? Myrnah and I are in the courting stage of our relationship when it comes to riding. I do the movement, and she still is deciding if she wants to partner with me. Advance and retreat, a timed balance of action and inaction- the game is marvelous fun for me; and, while Myrnah still seems a little puzzled and unsure about it, I have no doubt that one of these days she will fall in love with the idea of carrying me higher and faster than my own feet can carry me. Our traveling through space together continually evolves and is an endless love affair of movement.

So I put this out to all of you. Value your movements, and observe the ripples they create through time and space around you. If you are looking for a partner and you want that brilliant feeling of connection, find a way to move together, step for step, breath for breath- more time spent existing in movement, less time talking, debating, and communicating about exactly what or how or when. Take the time to just be- in movement together.

Communication brings comfort and trust to the relationship- that is a necessary piece; however the inexplicably beautiful bond and connection between you comes from the time spent when communication isn’t necessary, moving in harmony together. It’s that simple.

“The great affair is to move.” Life is your canvas and movement your paint brush. Paint a landscape your horse can’t resist and revel in the great affair.

Elsa Sinclair


  1. Your story brings a whole new meaning to my perception of movement Elsa. Can’t say much more about it right now – your words have to sink in I guess – but reading this made me feel so peaceful, as if your words came from the Universe…

  2. Thank you, once again, for your clarity and eloquence in sharing your journey with Myrnah with us. I agree with Marja, these words ring so true, it actually creates peace in me.

  3. Elsa, I think this loving movement shared started when Myrnah looked at you through your binoculars at the Oregon Auction, last August. Perhaps something in YOUR movement then attracted her, and she has enjoyed moving with you ever since. Michael

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